Free Press Journal

Another cricket team in pocket, Mallya defiant


Kingfisher owner unfazed by loan ‘defaulter’ tag; says PNB not ‘the only bank’.

New Delhi : It was just the other day that the Punjab National Bank declared industrialist Vijay Mallya a ‘wilful defaulter’ – it is the third financial institution to do so – but the flamboyant owner of funds-strapped UB group and defunct airlines Kingfisher has not got over his indulgent ‘acquisitions.’

The latest such indulgence has been his purchase of a Caribbean premier league team – Barbados Tridents. Mallya already owns the IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore. Incidentally, the Caribbean cricket league is a take-off on the IPL and one of its other franchise owners is Shah Rukh Khan who owns the Trinidad and Tobago team.

However, Mallya seems least bothered by the controversies that keep dogging him in view of his lavish lifestyle, on the one hand, and bank defaults, on the other. He sounded his defiant self on Thursday when he said that “PNB is not the only bank and he will do what he has to do”. Mallya also said everybody has his own “perception” about his lifestyle and he would not comment on it.

He, however, maintained his future action was to achieve a settlement with the banks whom he owes around Rs 7,000 crores. He, however, refused to say how he would achieve that or the timeframe in which he would cough up outstanding loans.  “That is it. I have nothing more to say,” was his cryptic response.

PNB is the third public sector bank to declare Kingfisher Airline and its two guarantors — United Breweries (Holdings) Ltd and Mallya — as wilful defaulters. Earlier, the United Bank of India and the SBI had done the same.

Talking to Times Now news channel, Mallya said he had “no comment to make” when asked about RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan’s recent comment on lavish birthday parties thrown by loan defaulters.  “Listen everybody has their own perception. I don’t want to comment,” he said.

Pressed on how he plans to achieve a settlement with banks, Mallya said, “Why are you bothered about my business?”  When it was pointed out that questions are being raised because it involved tax payer’s public money, he said, “Listen, I am making all possible efforts to settle with the banks. That is all I am prepared to say.”

Asked when he would clear every penny that he and his companies owe to the banks, Mallya said, “Listen, why are you going on and on. Are you the Government of India, or are you the RBI Governor, to ask me all the questions.”

 When told that these are the questions that the RBI has asked, he said, “Fair enough. If RBI asks me any question, I will respond to the RBI.”

 Asked about the PwC report on alleged fund diversion, he said, “I don’t want to answer about anything. I have not commented to the media and I don’t want to comment.”

 In April 2015, Diageo-controlled USL Board said it has “lost confidence” in Vijay Mallya after an internal probe and a forensic inquiry by PwC revealed alleged fund diversion to Kingfisher and other UB group entities.  Main input PTI