NEW DELHI: Just days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) moved the courts seeking the naming of Vijay Mallya as a 'fugitive offender' and confiscation of assets worth several thousand crore, the liquor baron said he and his group are trying to sell assets worth Rs 13,900 crore to settle his dues.
According to Mallya's statement on Tuesday, in which he alleged that political motivations had turned him into "the 'Poster Boy' of bank default and a lightning rod of public anger", he and his flagship firm -- United Breweries Holdings Ltd -- have approached the Karnataka High Court seeking permission to sell an assortment of properties and other assets under judicial supervision to repay creditors. Once again denying charges of being a wilful defaulter and claiming he was tired of the "relentless pursuit", Mallya claimed that "all (his) efforts are either ignored or misunderstood".
"If criminal agencies like ED and CBI object to my proposal, and object to the sale of assets, it will clearly demonstrate that there is an agenda against me," Mallya stated, also citing reports that ED had objected to public sector banks' claim to the proceeds arising from the sale of his assets. "... this is a clear example of politically motivated abuse of power with no legal basis whatsoever and behoves the fundamental question of whether the government wants me to repay the public sector banks or not," he said.
When he fled the country in March, 2016, to avoid arrest and trial, Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines owed a cumulative Rs 9,000 odd crore to a bevy of creditors. Since then, India has been engaged in an extradition battle in the United Kingdom to bring Mallya home to face trial, with its lawyers arguing that he never intended to repay the loans he took.
Meanwhile, government sources pointed out that with the ED already moving the courts under the Fugitive Economic Offender Ordinance, the establishment will take Mallya on in the courts. CBI sources also pointed out that the statement could have been released to strengthen Mallya's position in the UK courts. As recently as May this year, the UK High Court had refused to rule in favour of Mallya in an $1.55 billion asset case filed by a consortium of 13 Indian banks.
NPA situation may worsen further, says RBI
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Why didn’t he pay up till now, asks M J Akbar
Responding to Vijay Mallya’s argument that he really wanted to settle his dues but was unable to do so because he became a victim of sorts, Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar said if the fugitive liquor baron wanted to repay his bank dues, he had many years to do so.