Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who faces pressure to repay nearly a billion dollars owed to banks by his collapsed airline, tweeted early this morning that he is “being hunted down by media in the UK.”
The 60-year-old industrialist, who built his fortune partly with Kingfisher beer and then ran into financial disaster with Kingfisher Airlines, also added: “Sadly they did not look in the obvious place. I will not speak to media so don’t waste your efforts.”
Mr Mallya left the country earlier this month. Rejecting that he has fled India, he tweeted on Friday, “I am an international businessman. I travel to and from India frequently. I did not flee from India and neither am I an absconder. Rubbish,” He did not disclose his location, but is believed to be at his luxury home, bought for 16 million dollars, in Hertfordshire village north of London.
Mr Mallya has been ordered to appear for questioning in Mumbai on March 18 in a money-laundering case. The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that he illicitly used a 900-crore loan from the state-run IDBI to service other debts and sent large sums abroad. His office has not confirmed whether he will obey the summons.
The government has been accused of “criminal conspiracy” by the opposition Congress for allowing Mr Mallya’s exit. But it has said that when Mr Mallya flew abroad, there was no legal restriction on his travel.
The controversy over his unhindered exit is owed in part to the CBI. Last year, the investigating agency issued a notice to airports asking for Mr Mallya to be detained if he tried to board an international flight. A month later, the “lookout notice” was downgraded with the CBI asking to be alerted if Mr Mallya seemed poised to travel abroad.