Businessman Vijay Mallya on Monday said that he had not “stolen” money and that his offer to repay the principal amount to Indian banks was “not bogus”, PTI reported. He was speaking to reporters outside the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London in the United Kingdom ahead of the verdict on his extradition to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering.
The businessman is accused of cheating Indian banks of Rs 9,000 crore and is also facing allegations of money laundering and diversion of loans. He had earlier offered to pay the entire principal amount he owes to a consortium of 17 banks led by the State Bank of India. “I did not borrow a single rupee,” he had tweeted last week. “The borrower was Kingfisher Airlines. Money was lost due to a genuine and sad business failure. Being held as guarantor is not fraud.”
“It [The offer] is not related to this extradition trial,” Mallya said on Monday. “Nobody disrespects a court of law by making a bogus offer. The assets have been attached by the ED [Enforcement Directorate] so they cannot be bogus assets.” Mallya said he had made a settlement offer before the Karnataka High Court.
Mallya said the value of his assets is more than enough to pay everybody and that is what he was focusing on.
Mallya had fled India and moved to London in March 2016. India submitted an extradition request to the UK in February 2017 after the businessman made his self-imposed exile clear. He contested his extradition on the grounds that the case against him is “politically motivated” and that the loans he defaulted on were taken to keep the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines afloat.
Once the court in London delivers the verdict, the decision will go to the UK Home Office for the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to pass an order based on the ruling. The Crown Prosecution Service and Mallya will have the right to file for a permission to appeal in the UK High Court, PTI reported.
CBI official sent to London
Earlier, unidentified officials said that a joint team of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate led by CBI Joint Director A Sai Manohar left for London on Sunday. Manohar has replaced Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who had been attending the trial till now. Asthana was sent on leave in October after a conflict with Director Alok Verma became public.
On Monday, an Arthur Road prison official in Mumbai told PTI that a high-security cell in a two-storeyed building was kept ready for Mallya if the UK court rules in favour of extraditing him to India. “We are fully prepared to lodge him safely at our correction centre,” the unidentified official said. “If he is brought here, we will take care of his safety and security.”
The Centre had submitted assurances on behalf of India that Mallya will not face any risk of violence, and submitted photographs and a video showing facilities that would be available to him. Mallya’s defence had contested the claims, saying that the jail’s interiors had been freshly painted to give the impression of brightness. Clare Montgomery, the defence counsel, had told the court that the state of the cell did not meet acceptable standards.