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02 December 2023

India's Kingfisher baron rejects claims he 'absconded'

By Reuters

Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya, who left the country as banks sought to recover more than $1 billion owed by his collapsed Kingfisher Airlines, has rejected suggestions he was an absconder and said he respected the law of the land.

Mallya, a former billionaire who built his fortune on Kingfisher Beer and a current member of parliament, left India last week.

More than a dozen banks - led by the country's biggest, State Bank of India - had appealed to the country's Supreme Court asking that he be prevented from leaving.

"I am an international businessman," Mallya said in a series of postings on his official Twitter account on Friday. "I travel to and from India frequently.

I did not flee from India and neither am I an absconder."  (https://bit.ly/227cxke)

Indian media has reported that Mallya, who is a guarantor to the Kingfisher Airlines debt, is in Britain and have said that he could be staying in a luxury residence in Hertfordshire, north of London.

The businessman did not mention his location in his tweets, but said that as a member of parliament he would fully comply with the law.

Kingfisher, once India's second-biggest airline, stopped flying in October 2012, leaving creditors, suppliers and employees unpaid. It owed banks 90.91 billion rupees ($1.4 billion) at the end of November.

The Kingfisher creditors stepped up efforts to recover the debt after Mallya last month resigned as chairman of spirits maker United Spirits, a unit of Diageo Plc. As part of that settlement, Diageo will pay Mallya $75 million over a five-year period.