On Thursday, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that it is unfair to tag a “one-time loan defaulter Vijay Mallyaji” as a “chor”. Notably, Vijay Mallya is being investigated for fraud and money-laundering by the Indian enforcement agencies.
At an economic summit organised by the Times Group, Minister Nitin Gadkari said, “For 40 years Mallya was regularly paying interest on loans. After entering the aviation sector, he started facing problems, and suddenly he became a thief? If a person repays the interest for 50 years, and if he defaults once, then suddenly everything is fraud? This mindset is not correct.”
However, the very next moment Nitin Gadkari clarified that he has no business dealing with Vijay Mallya. He further said the loan he was referring to was from the Maharashtra government-owned entity Sicom to Vijay Mallya, extended 40 years ago, which he repaid on time without any default.
“There are risks in the business, be it banking or insurance, there are ups and downs. But, if the mistakes are bona fide, because of global or internal factors in the economy like a recession, then that person who is facing difficulties must be given support,” the minister said.
“If Nirav Modi or Vijay Mallyaji has committed (financial) fraud then send them to jail, but whoever comes in distress, and if we label them as fraudster then our economy will not progress,” he noted.
Earlier this week, a UK Court directed the authorities to extradite Vijay Mallya to face the fraud investigation in India. Previously, in a tweet, Vijay Mallya offered to pay back the full amount of the principal loan he owed various banks. “Airlines struggling financially partly becoz of high ATF prices. Kingfisher was a fab airline that faced the highest ever crude prices of $ 140/barrel. Losses mounted and that’s where Banks money went. I have offered to repay 100 % of the Principal amount to them. Please take it,” he tweeted.
The London High Court had also asked Vijay Mallya to pay £88,000 to Swiss bank UBS as part of interim legal costs in a case filed by the bank seeking possession of his Baker Street house.
Gadkari has for long been calling for a more considerate and realistic approach to NPAs, and indirectly blamed the bankers for the NPA mess, saying our banking system is such that it does not support sick companies.