New Delhi : Beleaguered beer tycoon Vijay Mallya has said he is in a “forced exile” and has no immediate plans to come home to India after his passport has been cancelled and the government has requested the UK government to deport him.
Mallya who is in London since the first week of March told a British newspaper: “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 My passport has been revoked.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.”
The tycoon whose nickname has changed from the ‘king of good times’ to the ‘king of bad times’ also faces the prospects of losing his membership of the upper house of Parliament. He has been facing court action for defaulting on loans estimated at Rs.9000 crores after his face — the high profile airlines Kingfisher — collapsed on 2012. Mallya’s lawyers have already expressed fears that should he come back he would be taken straight to the Tihar jail from the airport, as the banks are more interested in arresting him instead of settling his outstanding loans. He told the newspaper that he wanted a “reasonable” settlement with creditor banks for his defunct airline, and they “are not getting any money” by taking his passport or arresting him. “We have always been in dialogue with banks saying: ‘We wish to settle’. But we wish to settle at a reasonable number that we can afford and banks can justify on the basis of settlements done before. By taking my passport or arresting me, they are not getting any money,” he said.
The liquor baron also claimed that the banks are artificially inflating the amount that is due from him. According to him the actual principal borrowed was a little over £500m, while interest as of 2013, when legal skirmishes over repayment began, was £120m. “It is grossly unjust to apply compound interest and artificially inflate this figure,” he said and added that his offer of a final settlement of £440m was “way, way in excess of the World Bank average for settlement of bad debts”.
He also asserted that India’s banks have sold many previous non-performing loans owed by other borrowers to asset reconstruction companies for just 30-40 per cent of their book value. “As professional bankers, they would like to settle and move on but, because of my image as portrayed, they are reluctant to be seen as giving me any discount .It will attract huge media criticism and inquiries by vigilance agencies in India,” he added.
Mallya who has assets abroad is also accused of diverting the funds that came to him from the loans to buy these properties. But he has denied these charges asserting that he was “absolutely not guilty of any of these preposterous charges of diverting funds from Kingfisher, buying properties or stuff like that”. He dared the government to appoint the world’s best forensic auditor to audit the accounts of Kingfisher and audit how banks loans were utilised. “I am sure they are not going to find anything, because that’s the truth,” he said.
The liquor baron who is being chased by the Modi government also said that the authorities were acting in undue haste. “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.