Vijay Mallya pleads innocence, hits out at ‘witch hunt’ by the media
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New Delhi: Just two days after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charged liquor baron Vijay Mallya with fraud and criminal conspiracy, the former chairman and managing director of Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement that Mallya issued on Twitter on Friday morning, he said he was being unfairly targeted by the media.
“Yet it is reported that I have fled or run away owing money to banks that I never ever borrowed in the first place. Till this minute there is no final judicial determination on what KFA owes to Banks and what I may owe in my personal capacity after trial. In our Country I assumed that innocence prevails till proven guilty. Media have convicted me guilty without trial with widespread influence,” Mallya stated.
A senior CBI official brushed aside Mallya’s claims.
“Mallya is now struggling for air because he knows he has no defence. A red corner notice has already been issued against him and he will have to respond once the court hears the matter, following the chargesheet that we had filed on Tuesday. This is just his attempt at garnering sympathy and creating hype for no reason,” a senior CBI official said on condition of anonymity.
On Monday, the CBI’s central and Bengaluru division raided the premises of the Vijay Mallya-run UB Group in Bengaluru in connection with a Rs900-crore loan default and money laundering case.
Hours later, on Monday night, the CBI arrested nine officials from across KFA and IDBI Bank Ltd, including the bank’s ex-chief.
On Tuesday, the agency filed a 300-page chargesheet in the matter against the IDBI and KFA executives under the Prevention of Corruption and Criminal Conspiracy Act, Sections 13 (1) 13 (2) and sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code for “entering into a criminal conspiracy for misutilisation, misappropriation and diversion of funds”.
In its chargesheet, the CBI stated that while the Rs900 crore loan by IDBI had been sanctioned in violation of credit norms. It also added that the “Mallya-led Kingfisher Airlines had allegedly diverted funds to the tune of Rs263 crore out of Rs900 crore for personal use”.
Following closely on the heels of the chargesheet, Mallya had taken to social media to claim that he was being made part of a “witch hunt”.
“I am kind of getting used to these witch hunts coming from all directions with no legal basis whatsoever. Shows what government machinery can do,” Mallya stated on Twitter on Thursday morning.
On Tuesday, the arrested executives were remanded to judicial custody till 7 February by a special CBI court. Their bail plea will be heard on 30 January.