Jaitley denies meeting Mallya after liquor baron's claims outside London court

Jaitley denies meeting Mallya after liquor baron's claims outside London court

His statement came after England's Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said that the ruling on whether the liquor baron can be extradited from Britain to India to face fraud charges will be given on December 10. Although Jaitley was quick to release a statement saying the meeting with Mallya was unscheduled and he advised him to meet the banks, the sensational claim raises a larger question that if a senior cabinet minister knew that Mallya was going to fly away to London, could the government have done more to keep him in the country?

In fact, as early as June this year, BJP's Rajya Sabha MP, Subramanian Swamy had hinted about Mallya's meeting with an unnamed but powerful person in the Narendra Modi government before he left India.

Mallya claimed he met the FM before leaving the country and gave the offer to settle with banks.

Mallya, who left India on March 2, 2016, also claimed that he was disliked by both the major parties in India - the BJP and Congress.

On being asked how he plans to repay the banks with his assets being frozen, Mallya said that the decision in this regard will have to be taken by the Enforcement Directorate.

Mallya first spoke about meeting Jaitley during the lunch break when he stepped out for a smoke.

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Rubbishing his claims, Arun Jaitley in his Facebook blog said, "He (Mallya) paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that "I am making an offer of settlement".

Mallya also subsequently clarified and described the episode as an "unnecessary controversy" as there was no formal meeting between the two. "I did not even receive the papers that he was holding in his hand". "There was no need to run and the allegations are media created allegations", he said. "That is the truth", he told reporters outside a London court hearing a case for his extradition. This provided the opposition some fodder to target Jaitley and the Congress said that the revelations were an embarrassment to the government. "My conscience is clear and (I) put nearly Rs15,000 crore worth of assets on the table of the Karnataka High Court", he said.

"I have no comment, you are hearing everything in court", he added on further questions by the reporters. I feel like a scapegoat.

The State Bank of India (SBI), which led a consortium of 17 lenders that had exposure to the defunct Kingfisher Airlines, had declared Mallya a wilful defaulter in February 2016.

Mallya's team argued there is no prima facie case, while India presented thousands of pages of documents to substantiate charges of dishonesty and misrepresentation to obtain loans from IDBI, and disbursal of monies for purposes unintended.

Mallya, while heading inside the court in connection with his extradition case, said that he is ready for a comprehensive settlement.

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