Liquor baron Vijay Mallya on Tuesday released a letter he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 15, 2016, saying he was “making every effort to repay” his bad loans and that he had been made the “poster boy” of bank default.
On June 22, Mallya and his United Breweries Holdings sought Karnataka High Court’s approval to sell frozen assets worth Rs 13,900 crore to repay dues owned by his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
In his letter, Mallya said, “I have been accused by politicians and the media alike of having stolen and run away with Rs 9,000 crores that was loaned to Kingfisher Airlines (KFA). Some of the lending banks have also labelled me a willful defaulter.”
He added that “the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have filed chargesheets against me with various untenable and blatantly false allegations acting at the behest of the government and lending banks. The ED has also attached assets belonging to me, my group companies and companies owned and/or controlled by my family under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) currently valued at approximately Rs 13,900 crores,” he noted.
Mallya said that the consortium of 17 banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), gave loans of Rs 5,500 crore to the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines. He stated that over Rs 600 crore has been recovered through the sale of pledged assets, and another Rs 1,280 crore is deposited with Karnataka High Court since 2013.
In the letter, Mallya said he “made two settlement offers to the banks when proceedings were filed by them in the Honourable Supreme Court of India on 29th March 2016, and 6th April, 2016. Against the then outstanding principal amount of approximately Rs 5,000 crores, my first offer was for Rs 4,000 crores (plus the assignment of a claim in a pending suit of approximately Rs 2,000 crores), which was subsequently revised to Rs 4,400 crores (plus the assignment of the claim in the pending suit of approximately Rs. 2,000 crores)”.
On the issue of KFA employees not being paid their salaries, he said he sympathised with them and would pay their dues if he was allowed to access the money deposited with Karnataka High Court.
Mallya, also known as the ‘king of good times’, launched Kingfisher Airlines in 2005. It stopped operating in 2012. In November 2013, SBI was the first bank to tag Mallya and two of his companies as a “willful defaulters”. He also owns the alcohol manufacturing company United Breweries.
On March 1, 2016, Mallya—who held a diplomatic passport as he was a Rajya Sabha member—boarded a Jet Airways flight bound for London from New Delhi. After he left India, he has been living in his plush country home in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire near London.