Embattled liquor baron and ‘King of Good Times’Vijay Mallya took to Twitter to vent his frustration over the thousands of crores bank loans to the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
He tweeted saying he is “being hunted down by media in UK”.
I am being hunted down by media in UK. Sadly they did not look in the obvious place. I will not speak to media so don’t waste your efforts.
— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) March 13, 2016
Vijay Mallya wants to return to India but fears the time isn’t right as his words may be twisted in spite of his “best intensions” following his Rs 9,000 crore loan default, the liquor baron told.
In an email interview with the British newspaper Sunday Guardian, the tycoon said he left India due to a “personal visit with a friend” and appeared to shift the blame of the massive loan default to the banks.
“There was a lookout notice issued against me last year. But I didn’t “escape”. Why am I being portrayed as a criminal now?” he said.
Mallya owes a consortium of 17 public sector banks an amount close to Rs 9,000 crore. The Supreme Court had issued a notice to him on a plea filed by the consortium, including State Bank of India, seeking to prevent him from leaving India and impounding his passport.
He had, however, left India on March 2 before the banks filed their plea.
The businessman rubbished reports that he is an absconder. “I am an international businessman. I travel to and from India frequently. I did not flee from India and neither am I an absconder. Rubbish,” Mallya said in a tweet on Friday.
I am an international businessman. I travel to and from India frequently. I did not flee from India and neither am I an absconder. Rubbish.
— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) March 10, 2016
A debt-recovery tribunal order has barred him from touching the Rs 515 crore he received from liquor giant Diageo as settlement but the British company has said it already paid Mallya Rs 269 crore.
Banks owed money by Kingfisher Airlines have demanded “first right” to the Diageo cash, arguing that they were left with unpaid debts worth Rs 9,000 crore when the company collapsed more than three years ago.
But a combative Mallya didn’t back down, hitting out at the media and saying he didn’t do anything wrong.
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“Most of the big media houses are running a whole lot of lies about me. Speculations rule the papers. TV channels claim to have information about me from their sources. It’s a big agenda that some people are pushing against me. I am being victimized,” he said.
“And if people are doubting the integrity of bank employees, then why point the finger at me?”
The development comes at a time when India’s banking sector, dominated by about two-dozen state-run lenders, has been bruised by its highest bad-loan ratio in years as lagging economic growth hit companies’ abilities to service debt.
(With agencies input)