London– Industrialist Vijay Mallya, at the centre of a controversy in India over alleged loan default of Rs.9,000 crore, has termed the charges against him as “preposterous” and said he was in “forced exile” here from which he would like to return to his country.
“I’m absolutely not guilty of any of the preposterous charges of diverting funds from Kingfisher Airlines and buying properties,” Mallya said in an interview to the Financial Times. “I’m in a forced exile, willing to reach reasonable debt settlement.”
Questioning the amount of Rs.9,000 crore attributed as wilfull debt against him, the 60-year-old industrialist said by taking away his passport or arresting him, the Indian government and banks won’t be able to get any money out of him.
“I definitely would like to return to India. Right now things are flying at me fast and furious. My passport’s been revoked. I don’t know what the government will do next. I’ve always said I will like to reach out to the bankers of Kingfisher and make a settlement,” he said.
“Notwithstanding the legal proceedings, my offer for settlement stands. The filings before the debt recovery tribunal indicate some 500 million pounds. The rest is toward unapplied interest. I’ve never been able to understand where this Rs.900 million figure came from,” he said.
He said he has issued a sworn affidavit to the Supreme Court and the right position will come to light if a proper probe is conducted. “If the government decides to audit the accounts of Kingfisher airlines, they are not going to find anything — because that is the truth.”
Mallya said “extraordinary pressure” was being exerted on him, but he can’t give preference just to banks since there were other creditors as well.
“All I can say is that the manner in which my passport was revoked and then suspended was unprecedented and was done in extraordinary haste. I came to know of the facts by email,” he said, adding the notice of suspension of his passport came on holiday and that his reply was ignored.
He further said if he has proposed a settlement offer to the apex court, it had to be serious.
Mallya said he tried all that was possible to save Kingfisher Airlines, but in vain. “But I have currently businesses in India, and I wish to continue with them. They are doing very well. I’m currently in forced exile.”
As for his lifestyle, often termed as flamboyant, the industrialist said he was a rather simple man. “There is nothing wrong in wearing colourful piece of clothing,” he said.
“I think those who need to know certainly know that I have been the brand ambassador. The king of good times was the label for Kingfisher Airlines. I was, for whatever reason, known as the king of good times — but now obviously, the king of bad times.