By SM.12 Sep, 2018
NEW DELHI: Absconding tycoon Vijay Mallya, wanted on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs. 9,000 crore, today claimed he had met the Union finance minister before leaving India and made "repeated offers" to "settle issues". His statement triggered a political storm, with the Congress and other opposition parties saying it proved corrupt businessmen were fleeing the country with the collusion of the government.
In a Facebook post, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said Mallya"s "statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth".
Vijay Mallya later claimed the media had misrepresented facts. Asked about Jaitley"s response to his offer of settlement, he said, "There was no scheduled meet. I said I happened to meet the finance minister." He, however, added that he had told the minister that he was leaving for London.
Outside London"s Westminster Magistrates" Court, where his extradition case is being heard, Vijay Mallya told reporters, "I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva, I met the finance minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks... that"s the truth".
He, however, refused to divulge the details of the meeting. The 62-year-old tycoon said he has made a "very comprehensive offer" before the Karnataka High Court, "so that everybody gets paid".
As the Congress and other opposition parties demanded an explanation from the government, Jaitley, in a Facebook post, said, "Since 2014, I have never given him (Vijay Mallya) any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise."
The minister went on to describe the occasion where Mallya met him in the Parliament corridor and "misused his privilege as a Rajya Sabha Member".
The tycoon, Jaitley said, had a sentence -- "I am making an offer of settlement". "Having been fully briefed about his earlier "bluff offers", without allowing 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," Jaitley said in the post.
"Mallya"s comment he met Jaitley confirms our assertion that government was fully complicit in flight of people like him and others. The government must explain how Vijay Mallya was allowed to leave India," the Congress said. Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted:
Randeep Singh Surjewala✔@rssurjewala
After Mallya reveals his ‘consultation meetings’ before his smooth escape, with Fiscal Mismanagement Blog Minister Sh Jaitley - one thing is clear - BJP is running “tour travels & immigration” agency for “loot scoot & settle abroad” brigade.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a tweet said, "PM Modi meets Neerav Modi before he flees the country. FM meets Vijay Mallya before he flees India. What transpired in these meetings? People want to know."
"Entire Modi government is hand in glove with scamsters & absconders. They hatched a plot to loot hundreds of thousands of Crores. PM & FM must respond on this," tweeted Bihar leader Tejashwi Yadav.
Last month, during his visit to the UK, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had alleged that the Narendra Modi government is going easy on some businessmen like Vijay Mallya. "Before Mallya left India, he met senior BJP leaders. That is documented. I won"t name them," Rahul Gandhi had told reporters in London.