Mallya-Jaitley meeting in Parliament corridors sparks controversy

Mae Love
September 13, 2018

Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya said on Wednesday that he met the finance minister before leaving India, a claim denied by Arun Jaitley as "factually false".

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not waste time in responding to Mallya's claim. "Arun Jaitley should step down as FInance Minister while this probe is underway". The Union Minister said he had never given him any appointments for any meeting since 2014.

Speaking to reporters outside a local court in London, the billionaire businessman had said, "I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva".

"However, since he was a Member of Rajya Sabha and he occasionally attended the House, he misused that privilege on one occasion while I was walking out of the House to go to my room".

He said Mallya, while walking alongside, "uttered a sentence that "I am making an offer of settlement".

On being asked if he has convinced the Court that he has the means to pay what he said he will, Mallya told media here, "Obviously, that is why a settlement offer has been made".

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

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Reacting to Vijay Mallya's comment that he met Arun Jaitley before leaving India, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said that PM Narendra Modi should launch an independent probe into the matter.

The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, who has been on bail on an extradition warrant since his arrest in United Kingdom last April, is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs. 9,000 crores.

On Wednesday, 12th September, Mallya reached the London's Westminster Magistrates court where it has been chose to announce the verdict for fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya's extradition case on the 10th of December.

Attacking the BJP, another Congress leader PL Punia said that he saw Jaitley and Mallya having a discussion in the Central Hall of Parliament.

"I have said before that I am a political football".

But when reporters asked Mallya about the condition of the jail after the video of his cell was presented to him by the Indian authorities, Mallya labelled it as "pretty impressive". "I don't believe I owe you any further details".

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too questioned that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers need to explain their meetings with the economic fugitives. Earlier in the day, Mallya said that he had made a "comprehensive settlement" offer before the Karnataka High Court that will help in paying off all his dues. What transpired in these meetings? "The nation wants to know", he said, adding that the government was fully complicit in the "flight" of people like Mallya and others from the country.

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