London/Nagpur: Two days after tweeting that he is an international businessman, not an absconder, and denying that he has fled India, liquor baron Vijay Mallya on Sunday said he has already been branded a criminal in the country and therefore, it is not the right time for him to return.
On Friday, the Enforcement Directorate issued a summons to Mallya to appear before it on March 18, in a money laundering case. Mallya’s latest statement – tellingly, he also said, “I hope that I return one day,” – would seem to indicate that he is extremely unlikely to heed the ED summons, or even be seen in India any time soon.
In an email interview to Sunday Guardian, Mallya said he had left on March 2 on a “personal visit with a friend”.
Don’t make me villain, says tycoon
Lots of people have written that I was carrying seven bags. For two people, I don’t think that’s too much. I pack heavy. There was a lookout notice issued against me last year.
But I didn’t ‘escape’. Why am I being portrayed as a criminal now? Loan defaults are a business matter. When the banks give out loans, they know the risk involved… Don’t make me the villain. I have the best intentions. I’m quiet because I fear my words will be twisted like those of others,” Mallya said in an interview on Sunday.