Liquor baron Vijay Mallya on Thursday said he was “kind of getting used to the witch hunts” against him. In a series of tweets, Mallya said all the allegations of money laundering against him were without any legal basis. His remarks came two days after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a chargesheet against him and 11 others for misappropriating a Rs 900-crore loan granted by IDBI Bank to Kingfisher Airlines.
“CBI alleges diversion of funds OUT of Kingfisher Air[lines]. Securities and Exchange Board of India alleges diversion of funds from United Spirits Limited INTO Kingfisher Air[lines]. What joke is this?” Mallya asked. “Allegations of fund diversion out of USL are baseless. USL accounts were approved by top auditors, an eminent Board of Directors and shareholders,” he added.
Mallya also said that the accusations against him “shows what government machinery can do”. “For 30 years I built the world’s largest spirits company and India’s largest brewing company...this is what I get.” He also defended his administration of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, calling it a “great public utility” which connected India like never before. “It was not my private toy.”
On Wednesday, Sebi banned Mallya and six others from trading in the securities market in connection with the funds diversion case. The regulator said that funds for USL were diverted to other United Breweries companies, including Kingfisher Airlines. Mallya and others are involved in several cases connected with the airline, and the liquor baron, who left India in March 2016, owes more than Rs 9,000 crore to 17 banks.