Fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya today dropped a bombshell claiming in London that he had met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before he left India which Jaitley was quick to deny.
Just out of the court hearing India's plea for extradition on grounds of money laundering and fraud for more than Rs 9,000 crore, he said, "I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the Finance Minister before I left. (I) Repeated my offer to settle with the banks. That's the truth," he said.
"I have said before that I am a political football. There is nothing that I can do about it. My conscience is clear and put almost Rs 15,000 crore worth of assets on the table of Karnataka High Court. I am certainly a scapegoat, I feel like a scapegoat. Both political parties don’t like me," he said to reporters outside the court. "I obviously don't agree with anything the prosecution is alleging. We poured over 4,000 crores into Kingfisher Airlines to keep it flying. The allegation seems to be the other way around. Let the court decide," he said.
His statement comes close on the heels of former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan sending a note to a parliamentary panel about bad loans of banks and the threat they face due to growing non-performing assets.
Jaitley responded on twitter handle:: “The statement of Vijay Mallya that he met me & offered settlement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth. Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise.
“Since he was a Member of Rajya Sabha and he occasionally attended the House, he misused that privilege on one occasion, having been fully briefed about his earlier “bluff offers”, I curtly told him “there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers.”
The claim of Mallya has come handy for the Congress which was on a sticky wicket after the Raghuram note that the NPA growth originated mainly between 2006 and 2008 when the UPA led by it was in power at the Centre.
Earlier, Mallya appeared at the Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Wednesday in the case as part of India’s efforts to extradite him. The court is expected to deliver the ruling on December 10.
Mallya’s counsel submitted that the Indian Government failed to provide any substantial evidence to justify the extradition.
According to reports, the judge reviewed video footage provided by Indian authorities as the defence sought inspection of Barrack 12 of Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai where Mallya would be housed once extradited.