Where in the world is Force India team principal and Kingfisher Airlines head Vijay Mallya? According to The Guardian, he is believed to be in London, or at least somewhere that isn’t India. Wherever he is, he insists that he isn’t fleeing pressure to pay the $1.34 billion owed by the defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
Mallya is an Indian businessman who’s dabbled in several industries over the years, perhaps most notably the United Breweries Group, of which Mallya still serves as chairman. Mallya used to be chairman of the United Spirits, which was under the UB Group, however, The Guardian reports that he was given a $40 million partial severance package to leave that role amid allegations of financial trouble.
UB Group produces the popular Kingfisher beer, which—per the last time I wanted a good curry—is definitely still around. Kingfisher Airlines, however, ceased operations in 2013, leaving behind approximately $1.34 billion in loans still owed to primarily Indian state-run banks.
On top of all this, Mallya also serves as a member of the Indian parliament. The idea that he would leave the country while owing so much to state banks is a huge, nasty political deal in India.
The Economic Times reports that a consortium of 13 banks presented their case to India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday to prevent Mallya from leaving India until the debt was settled, however, he appears to have left the country several days before before his passport could be seized. A spokesperson for Mallya told the Economic Times that Mallya was only communicating through email, and she had no information as to his location.
Mallya swears he hasn’t fled his debts, however. He swears! He took to Twitter today to try and clear his squeaky-clean name, taking particular issue with Times Now’s coverage of the issue:
Mallya also retweeted this story from LinkedIn in an attempt at putting a more flattering take on India’s “Mallyagate” out there:
As to the more pressing question about why he’s not telling his spokesperson where he is, gee, I have no idea why he might be doing that.
However, Mallya had previously indicated that he’d like to move to the United Kingdom to be closer to his children, per The Hindu. Neighbors told The Telegraph that they have spotted Mallya recently at his mansion in Hertfordshire, which Mallya purchased from Lewis Hamilton’s father Anthony last July for approximately $16.5 million.
The Times of India reports that Mallya must appear before the Enforcement Directorate next week, on March 18, for questioning regarding an ongoing money laundering investigation. We’ll know for sure if he resurfaces in India then. Otherwise, the Indian Grand Prix this year could have a whole extra layer of drama to it.
[H/T Axis of Oversteer!]
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