PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Bengaluru: The ‘King of Debt Times’ Vijay Mallya has come up with a clever plan. With the Enforcement Directorate’s noose tightening around his neck, the fugitive tycoon holed up in the UK has sought approvals from a court in Karnataka to sell assets worth Rs 13,900 crore to repay creditors, including banks which have piled up cases against him.

The plan is clever because Mallya knows that he cannot sell the assets as most of his properties have been attached by the ED and other agencies. The banks that were duped by him too have a right of possession over the properties until the debt is cleared. Sources said Mallya is not interested in selling anything and cannot sell even a needle; but he wants to use this route to prove to the UK courts that he is very keen to repay every penny, but it is the law enforcing agencies that are out on a witch-hunt. In a statement from the UK, Mallya confirmed what he had told the court on Friday (June 22). “If agencies like the CBI or the Enforcement Directorate object to my appeal, it would demonstrate an agenda against me beyond recovery of dues”.

“I respectfully say that I have made and continue to make every effort, in good faith, to settle with the Public Sector Banks. If politically motivated extraneous factors interfere, there is nothing that I can do,” said the 62-year-old. To back his claim that he is sincere in his commitment to repay the debts, Mallya on Tuesday released a two-year-old letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he said he was “making every effort” to settle his dues but he had been made the “Poster Boy” of bank default and a lightning rod for public anger.

If his appeal is rejected, which in any case would happen, he would go straight to the courts in the UK and say that he needs asylum and protection as the two agencies, driven by their political masters, were “determined” to frame criminal charges against him. “The surprising fact is that the ED has objected in court to my Group’s applications for sale of assets,” Mallya said, questioning “whether the government wants me to repay the Public Sector Banks or not”.

“I wrote letters to both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister on 15th April 2016 and am making these letters public to put things in the right perspective. No response was received from either of them,” Mallya said in his statement. He said he was “tired of this relentless pursuit” by the government and its criminal agencies. He also claimed that the bulk of his dues were on account of interest, which kept rising either because his properties were seized or because he was denied permission to sell assets. Reacting to the statement, the government said Mallya had “many years” to pay the Rs 9,000 crore he owes.

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