UB Group Chairman Vijay Mallya at an interview with the “Financial Times” in London, April 29. (PTI | Financial Times)
Embattled tycoon Vijay Mallya has said he is in a “forced exile” and disclosed no immediate plans to return to India where things are flying at him “fast and furious.” (@Siliconeer, #Siliconeer, #VijayMallya, #Kingfisher, #IndianBanks)
Mallya, whose passport was revoked last month, said he wants a “reasonable” settlement with creditor banks for his defunct airline, but they “are not getting any money” by taking his passport or arresting him.
“I definitely would like to return to India. Right now, things are flying at me fast and furious. My passport has been revoked. I don’t know what the government is going to do next,” he told the Financial Times.
Mallya, 60, said he remains an Indian patriot, who is “proud to fly the Indian flag,” but as the outcry around him continues, he is more than happy to stay safe in the UK and has no plans to leave that country.
“It is important to understand the environment in India today. The electronic media is playing a huge role not just in molding public opinion, but in inflaming the government to a very large extent,” he said in what FT termed as a four-hour interview in Mayfair, Central London.
The Indian government yesterday wrote to Britain seeking deportation of the liquor baron against whom a non-bailable warrant has been issued in a money-laundering investigation.
Mallya, who flew first class from Delhi to London on March 2 as a group of state-owned banks knocked on the door of the Supreme Court to recover about Rs. 9,000 crores owed by his collapsed Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., said he was “absolutely not guilty of any of these preposterous charges of diverting funds from Kingfisher, buying properties or stuff like that.”
The government, he said, can appoint the world’s best forensic auditor to audit the accounts of Kingfisher and audit how banks loans were utilized. “I am sure they are not going to find anything, because that’s the truth.”
He said he has always maintained that “notwithstanding anything else,” he was interested in settlement with Kingfisher bankers.
Asked who was behind his woes, he said, “I wish I knew.”
Pressed if the people after him were bureaucrats or Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, “All I can say is the manner in which my passport was first suspended and then revoked was done in an extraordinary haste.”
“First, notice of suspension came on a public holiday last week… I replied. And my reply was not considered and the passport was revoked on Saturday,” he said.
Harping on his image as a flamboyant businessman, Mallya said: “I was known as the King of Good Times for whatever reason and now of course, indeed the King of Bad Times. But it’s past me now to figure out what I should have or should not have done.”
In a related development, the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in Bengaluru questioned Diageo, April 29, about the delay in furnishing details of the $75 million severance package agreed upon between the beleaguered tycoon and the company.