Time Not Right For My Return: Vijay Mallya To Indian Newspaper

NEW DELHI, (IANS): Business tycoon Vijay Mallya, wanted for investigations into a money laundering case, has said he is not on the run but is also in no hurry to return to India.

In an email interview published on Sunday, Mr Mallya, who owes banks nearly a billion dollars granted as loans, told the Sunday Guardian that he has done no wrong and that he is being “victimized”.

“Why am I being portrayed as a criminal? Loan defaults are business matters. When the banks give out loans, they know the risk involved. They decide, we don’t,” he said.

“Don’t make me the villain. I have the best intentions,” said the man who has so far refused to meet the media. “I’m quiet because I fear my words will be twisted like of others.”

Asked whether his departure from India on March 2 was related to his failure to pay back the loans, he said he had left on a personal visit along with a friend.

Mr Mallya said it was “a matter of interpretation” why he left India just before the banks that granted him loans had moved court. “It’s not the first time I’ve flown out of the country. I’ve not done anything wrong,” he said.

“Lots of people have written that I was carrying seven luggage bags… For two people, I don’t think that’s too much. I pack heavy. That’s how I travel.”

The liquor baron, who is also a Rajya Sabha member, however, said he did want to return to India, but the time, he felt, was “not right”.

“I’m not sure I’ll get a fair chance to present my side. I’ve already been branded a criminal,” he said. “I feel passions are high. People need to think rationally. They need to understand that business, whether large or small, has risks involved.”

Regarding his stay in UK, the liquor baron said: “I’ve never hidden any aspect about my life. I’m forced to go into hiding, and that makes me sick,” he said.

Asked where he was living now, Mr Mallya said, “I do not think it is wise for me to reveal my whereabouts. I’m no hardened criminal who the authorities need to hunt. For now, I want to feel safe.”

But he added, “I hope that I return one day. India has given me everything. It made me Vijay Mallya.”

:: Vijay Mallya said it was wrong to say he “escaped”. (AFP File photo)

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