Mallya Jaitley

Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley speaks in New Delhi Sept. 2 at a book launch. Jaitley has rejected Vijay Mallya’s claim that the two met in 2016 before Mallya fled India. (IANS/PIB photo)

LONDON — Fugitive business tycoon Vijay Mallya, wanted in India for his alleged role in a multi-crore bank loan fraud case, claimed Sept. 12 that he met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving India in 2016.

"I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the finance minister before I left... repeated my offer to settle with the banks. That is the truth," he told reporters outside a Westminster Magistrate court where he is fighting an extradition case filed by Indian authorities.

Mallya, who left India March 2, 2016, also claimed that he was disliked by both the major parties in India – the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress. 

"I am a political football... As far as I am concerned, I have made a comprehensive settlement offer before the Karnataka High Court. I hope the honorable judges will consider it favorably." 

Asked if he could settle his dues, Mallya, who headed the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines and the United Breweries, said: "Obviously. That is why a settlement offer has been made." 

Mallya, who faces charges of defrauding banks to the tune of Rs. 9,000 crore, said he did not file any clemency plea in the Karnataka High Court where he was ready to settle all dues.

"I put almost Rs. 15,000 crore offer on the table of the Karnataka High Court. I feel like a scapegoat. Both political parties don't like me," he said, adding that the banks had rejected his settlement offers. 

In New Delhi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Sept. 12 rejected Mallya's claim that the two met before Mallya left India two years ago.

"My attention has been drawn to a statement made to the media by Vijay Mallya on having met me with an offer of settlement. The statement is factually false inasmuch as it does not reflect truth," he said in a Facebook post shortly after the fugitive businessman made the claim outside a London court where he is facing extradition trial.

Jaitley said he has not given Mallya an appointment to meet him since 2014 and "the question of his having met me does not arise. 

"However, since he was a member of Rajya Sabha and he occasionally attended the House, he misused that privilege on one occasion while I was walking out of the House to go to my room. 

"He paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that 'I am making an offer of settlement,'" the minister said.

Jaitley said he had been fully briefed on Mallya’s previous "bluff offers" and did not allow him to proceed with the conversation. "I curtly told him 'there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers.' I did not even receive the papers that he was holding in his hand." 

The minister said besides this one-sentence exchange where he misused his privilege as a Rajya Sabha member in order to further his commercial interest as a bank debtor, he never gave Mallya an appointment to meet him. 

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