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Arun Jaitley denies meeting Vijay Mallya since 2014, says industrialist 'misused' privilege of being Rajya Sabha MP

Vijay Mallya had claimed that he met FM Jaitley before leaving India in 2014.

Arun Jaitley denies meeting Vijay Mallya since 2014, says industrialist 'misused' privilege of being Rajya Sabha MP

LONDON: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday denied meeting the embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya shortly after the latter said that he had met the senior BJP leader before leaving India in 2014.

Refuting the charges made by Mallya as "factually false," Jaitley claimed, ''The statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect the truth. Since 2014, I've never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise.''

FM Jaitley also accused Mallya of ''misusing'' his stature as the Rajya Sabha MP.

''Vijay Mallya "misused" privilege of being Rajya Sabha MP to catch me in the corridors of Parliament on one occasion while he was walking out of the House to go to his room, '' the Finance Minister said. 

FM Jaitley also issued a denial in a Facebook post on the issue titled ''The Factual Situation'' .

He said Mallya, while walking alongside, "uttered a sentence that 'I am making an offer of settlement'. Having been fully aware of his 'bluff offers', without allowing him to proceed with the conversation, I curtly told him 'there was no point in talking to me and he must make offers to the bankers.'"

"I did not even receive the papers he was holding in his hand," Jaitley claimed.

The denial from Jaitley came shortly after Mallya claimed that he met the Finance Minister before leaving India in 2014.

The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airline boss, who arrived here to appear before the Westminster Magistrates' Court in a case regarding his extradition to India to face the trial on fraud and money laundering charges, was asked by reporters if he was "tipped off" to leave the country.

"I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the Finance Minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks. That is the truth," he responded, without naming the minister.

''I happened to meet Mr Jaitley in Parliament & told him that I am leaving for London... I did not have any formal meetings scheduled with him," Mallya added.

Mallya, while talking to reporters, said that the media should also question the banks why they are not supporting him in his efforts to repay. 

"I have said before that I am a political football. There is nothing that I can do about it. My conscience is clear and (I) put almost Rs 15,000 crore worth of assets on the table of the Karnataka High Court," he said.

"I am certainly a scapegoat, I feel like a scapegoat. Both political parties don't like me," he said, while having a cigarette during the lunch break during the hearing for his ongoing extradition case at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London.

He sarcastically described the video of Barrack 12 at Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail, which has been prepared for him, as "very impressive". 

"I have no comment, you are hearing everything in court," he added on further questions by the reporters. 

Mallya has been on bail on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April last year and is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores.

At the previous hearing in July, Judge Arbuthnot had asked the Indian authorities to submit a "step by step video" of Barrack 12 of Arthur Road Jail for "the avoidance of doubt" over the availability of natural light in the cell where the businessman is expected to be detained pre-trial, during trial and in the event he is convicted by the Indian courts.

The extradition trial, which opened at the London court on December 4 last year, is aimed at laying out a prima facie case of fraud against Mallya. It also seeks to prove there are no "bars to extradition" and that the tycoon is assured a fair trial in India over his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines' alleged default of over Rs 9,000 crores in loans from a consortium of Indian banks.

Mallya's defence team has deposed a series of expert witnesses to claim he had no "fraudulent" intentions and that he is unlikely to get a fair trial in India. 

(With PTI Inputs)