London: Embattled business tycoon Vijay Mallya on Tuesday said there was “no loan diverted anywhere” and reporters could “keep dreaming” about allegations he committed a billion-pound fraud as he waded through cameras outside a London court.
Appearing Tuesday at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a hearing on his extradition after his April 18 arrest, Mallya was mobbed by questions from reporters, a video from Asian News International shows. His arrest followed an extradition request from his home country over allegations of fraud.
“You can keep dreaming about the billion pounds provided you have facts to justify your question,” Mallya said in response to a reporter’s questions about the alleged missing money, the ANI video shows. “There is no loan diverted anywhere.”
The 61-year-old was arrested in London on a warrant issued by Indian authorities accusing him of conspiring to defraud IDBI Bank Ltd through a Rs9,100 crore loan to Kingfisher Airlines Ltd—a premium airline he founded in 2005 and shut down seven years later. He was released on £650,000 bail (about Rs53.5 crore) and ordered to surrender his passport.
Mallya left India a year ago saying he was moving to England to be closer to his children.
His London lawyer, Anand Doobay at Boutique Law, declined to comment beyond confirming the next court hearing on 6 July.
Mallya has maintained that Kingfisher Airlines was an “unfortunate commercial failure” because of macroeconomic factors and government policies. An active Twitter user, he retweeted a Press Trust of India post on Tuesday that quoted him saying “I don’t make statements to the media because anything I say is twisted. There is enough evidence, that will speak.”
After taking over a beer-and-liquor empire from his father in the 1980s, Mallya built Kingfisher Airlines into one of India’s leading carriers until it was grounded amid mounting debt in 2012. He has gradually ceded control of his drinks businesses to rivals in recent years. Diageo Plc bought his United Spirits Ltd. in April 2014, while Heineken NV is now the biggest shareholder of United Breweries, the maker of the nation’s best-selling Kingfisher beer.