Vijay Mallya says he is in ‘forced exile’, has no plans to return to India: report
London/New Delhi: Beleaguered industrialist Vijay Mallya has said that he is in “forced exile” and that he will settle all his dues, but at a “reasonable price”. In an interview to UK’s leading business daily Financial Times, Mallya, who appeared unfazed by the developments around him back home, further said that he has no plans to leave the UK, where he says he is in “forced exile”.
“By taking my passport or arresting me, they are not getting any money,” Mallya told FT in the interview, adding that he wished to close a painful chapter in his “otherwise spectacular business career”.
According to the report, Mallya has denied any wrongdoing as alleged in the IDBI loan fraud case currently being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and said he was in for a settlement at reasonable rates with banks.
“We have always been in dialogue with banks saying: ‘We wish to settle’. But we wish to settle at a reasonable number that we can afford and banks can justify on the basis of settlements done before,” he said, reportedly chain-smoking cigarillos and sipping English tea.
Mallya describes the frenzy around his bad loans in India is one created by the media. Mallya said it was for this reason that banks had refused his earlier offer of Rs 4,000 crore. According to the submissions of banks in courts, Mallya owes them over Rs 9,600 crore including interest.
The banks, he said, “are fearful of taking any haircut on their loans in the face of the public frenzy whipped up against him in India”. Mallya claimed that his offer of repayment to banks was “way, way in excess of the World Bank average for settlement of bad debts”.
“As professional bankers, they (banks) would like to settle and move on but, because of my image as portrayed, they are reluctant to be seen as giving me any discount,” he says. “It will attract huge media criticism and inquiries by vigilance agencies in India,” he added.
Mallya also said that the figure of Rs 9,600 crore in debts that he owes to banks is an “inflated amount”. He claims the actual principal borrowed was a little over £500m (approximately Rs 4874 crore), while interest as of 2013, when legal skirmishes over repayment began, was £120m (Rs 1169 crore).
The report also makes a note that Mallya refused to criticise the Indian government led by Narendra Modi and rejected the idea that Modi was behind the decision to issue his arrest warrant and revoke his passport.
“I am perfectly happy with a stable government [with a majority in the lower house]. I will be happy when there is a majority in the upper house too [for the Modi government],” the FT report quoted Mallya as saying.
The report further quotes Mallya as saying that though he remains an ardent patriot, he is more than happy to stay safe in the UK.