Arun Jaitley Denies Giving Appointment To Vijay Mallya

Ravishankar Prasad

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad | File

"The government must explain how and why Vijay Mallya was allowed to leave India, " the Congress said shortly after the liquor baron claimed in London that he had met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving the country in 2014. However, Jaitley rejected the claim, saying Mallya was "factually false". Afterwards, Mallya clarified he didn't have any formal meeting with Jaitley but had happened to meet Mr. Jaitley in Parliament, telling him about his departure to London.

"I saw both Arun Jaitley and Vijay Mallya having a discussion in the Central Hall of Parliament". Jaitley denied a settlement had been reached in a Facebook post, saying he had declined to hold an audience with Mallya by telling him there was "no point talking to me".

Terming Mallya's offer to settle overdue loans of more than Rs 9,000 crore to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines as "bluff offers", Jaitley said he did not even take the papers the liquor baron was carrying during that brief encounter.

Arun Jaitley's rebuttal comes hours after Mallya's claim that he had met the minister before leaving the country in 2016 triggered a political firestorm.

The High Court order in favour of the State Bank of India (SBI) led consortium had reinforced a worldwide freezing order against Mallya's assets.

"Congress has been repeatedly asserting for the last over 18 months that not only Vijay Mallya but Nirav Modi, Choksi and many others have been allowed with impunity", Singhvi said. "The banks had filed objections to my settlement letters", Mallya said outside the Westminster Magistrates' Court where he had come for a hearing in his extradition case.

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The Congress also said on its official Twitter handle that Mallya met Jaitley "several times" before escaping the country to discuss a settlement plan. Soon after Mallya's statement, the Congress demanded an independent probe into the allegations and resignation of Jaitley. "I feel like a scapegoat", Mallya said. There is nothing that I can do about it. "My conscience is clear and (I) put nearly Rs15,000 crore worth of assets on the table of the Karnataka High Court", he said.

In an 8-minute long video accessed exclusively by News18, pictures of barrack number 12 of Arthur Road jail in Mumbai were leaked. "I don't believe I owe you any further details".

Mallya is now an absconder after he fled the country with dues with banks to the extent of over Rs 9,000 crore.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, had agreed to the request and the video has since been submitted to the court.

Mallya, who has been on bail on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April previous year, responded to the swarm of reporters gathered outside the court in his characteristic manner, saying the "courts will decide".

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