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New Delhi: Businessman Vijay Mallya said on Thursday that he had become a “poster boy" of loan defaulters in India and was being targeted by banks, which are seeking upwards of Rs9,000 crore owed by his defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.

Senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for Mallya, argued in the Supreme Court that his client was being victimized.

“I am now a poster boy of loan defaulters in India," Mallya told the court through his lawyer.

“Why is my case unique when the banks have over Rs7 lakh crore worth of non-performing asserts," he asked.

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A Supreme Court bench comprising justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit was hearing a plea by a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India seeking to recover the $40 million payout Mallya received out of a $75 million package from Diageo Plc. following his resignation as chairman of United Spirits Ltd in February 2016.

Mallya has stated in an affidavit that the money had been transferred to his three children—Siddharth, Leena and Tanya Mallya—who were US citizens and sole beneficiaries of three respective trusts over which he had no control in his individual capacity.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court reserved an order on whether Mallya could be held in contempt of court for not fully disclosing his assets before the court.

The apex court directed Mallya twice—in April and October 2016—to disclose all assets held by him and his family, after banks spurned his offer to repay Rs4,000 crore to settle the debts of Kingfisher Airlines.

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Mallya stated again on Thursday that he is open to negotiating a one-time settlement with banks.

However, the government and the consortium of banks told the court that Mallya’s presence would be a pre-condition for any fresh negotiation.

“An order from the Supreme Court directing Mallya’s presence would help in bringing back" Mallya, the government’s top law officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, told the court. He also added that the government is making alternative efforts to seek his return to India.

Mallya left for London on 2 March 2016, days before banks moved the apex court.

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