The Ministry of External Affairs on Saturday clarified that proclaimed bank offender and former liquor baron Vijay Mallya had not been formally invited to an event attended by the Indian High Commissioner in London. Indian High Commissioner Navtej Sarna reportedly left the function, which was a book launch, immediately after Mallya was spotted in the crowd.

The event was held at the London School of Economics on Thursday, and the MEA clarified that it was not hosted by the Indian High Commission, NDTV reported. Author Suhel Seth told NDTV that “no specific invitations were sent” for the reception. LSE also wrote to Sarna soon after, to say that Mallya had not been invited to the event.

The statement said, “…please note that there were two clear segments - the book launch by UK Minister Jo Johnson and discussion at LSE and later a reception at the High Commission for select guests… Mallya was certainly not an invitee to the reception at the High Commission for which the invitations were issued by the High Commission, and was not present.” One of the event organisers told The Hindu, “This was a public event, and was widely advertised on social media.”

Mallya left India on March 2, after stepping down as chairman of United Spirits. He owes Rs 9,000 crore to 17 banks in India and has said he will not return to the country as he feels he is in “forced exile”. He was recently declared a proclaimed offender by a special court that deals with cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The court was hearing a plea filed by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with cases pertaining to his pending bank loans in India.