New Delhi, March 11 (IANS) The Congress on Friday alleged that Vijay Mallya, the founder of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines (KFA), was tipped off to leave the country through a “secret understanding” between him and the government.
“Facts now suggest that Shri Vijay Mallya was actually tipped off to leave the country in order to escape recovery of over Rs.9,000 crore of loan by a consortium of banks,” All India Congress Committee (AICC) members Randeep Singh Surjewala, Rajeev Gowda and Ranjit Ranjan said in a statement here.
“If government has a secret understanding or is handling the issue through back channels, it owes a duty to place the same in public domain,” they said.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing the banks that lent money to the Kingfisher Airlines, informed the Supreme Court that Mallya left the country on March 2, citing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Mallya left the country six days before a group of creditor-banks led by the State Bank of India on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court to restrain him from leaving India.
“Will the prime minister fix responsibility and punish all those who are guilty, including the CBI, finance ministry, immigration officers, consortium of banks?” the Congress leaders asked.
They said, “Modi government came to power on the solemn promise of bringing back black money within 100 days.”
But here in this case a single defaulter with a default of over Rs.9,000 crore could leave India “despite the fact that a criminal case for financial irregularities and diversion of funds was lodged by CBI nearly seven months earlier”.
They said while Mallya was interrogated, he was “neither arrested nor his passport impounded”.
The Congress leaders attacked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who on Thursday raked up Bofors scam of 1980s to taunt the party.
Why was the finance minister hiding behind the lame excuse of “no case against Shri Vijay Mallya” as against banks seeking confiscation of his passport, they asked.
Jaitley on Thursday said Mallya’s leaving the country was different from Ottavio Quattrocchi, once wanted in the Bofors scam and now dead, not being proceeded against while he was in India.
“Rahul Gandhi should understand that going away of Ottavio Quattrocchi and Vijay Mallya is not the same. When CBI had alerted government about Quattrocchi, it was a criminal case and the then government did not stop him,” Jaitley said.
The Congress leaders said the Enforcement Directorate, Security Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) had initiated probe against Mallya “without much consequent action”.
Meanwhile, in a series of tweets on Friday, Mallya said he has not fled India.
“I am an international businessman. I travel to and from India frequently. I did not flee from India and neither am I an absconder. Rubbish,” Mallya tweeted.