Business tycoon Vijay Mallya rubbished charges that he was on the run to evade law enforcement agencies, in an email interview with The Sunday Guardian. He claimed that the banks gave him loans after evaluating all aspects. However, he also said that he was not in a hurry to return to India.
Q: What was the purpose of your leaving the country on 2 March? Was it related to your failure to pay back loans or a casual visit? Why haven’t you spoken out till now?
A: I left from Delhi for a personal visit with a friend. It wasn’t a business visit. Lots of people have written that I was carrying seven luggage bags. If I did or not, that’s another story. But, for two people, I don’t think that’s too much. I pack heavy. That’s how I travel. 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. They decide, we don’t. Our own business was flourishing, but plummeted suddenly. Don’t make me the villain. I have the best intentions. I’m quiet because I fear my words will be twisted like of others.
Q. Ironically, the time you left was just before the banks moved court? Did someone tip you off?
A: That is a matter of interpretation. It’s not the first time I’ve flown out from the country. I’ve not done anything wrong. I don’t need anyone to tip me off about anything. Most of the big media houses are running a whole lot of lies about me. Speculations rule the papers. TV channels claim to have information about me from their sources. It’s a big agenda that some people are pushing against me. I am being victimised. And if people are doubting the integrity of bank employees, then why point the finger at me? I’ve always taken things on my chin. I’ve lived grand and helped people do the same. I’ve never hidden any aspect about my life. I’m one of the most open people. I’m forced to go into hiding and that makes me sick.
Q: Do you plan to step back into India? If yes, when?
A: I am an Indian to the core. Of course I want to return. But I’m not sure I’ll get a fair chance to present my side. I’ve already been branded as criminal. I do not feel the time is right. I feel passions are high. People need to think rationally. They need to understand that business, whether large or small, has risks involved. I’ve seen the highest to the lowest points in this matter. But I hope that I return one day. India has given me everything. It made me Vijay Mallya.
Q: Where are you living currently? People claim to have spotted you near your property in Hertfordshire, near London.
A: 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.