Congress president Rahul Gandhi Thursday accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of colluding with business tycoon Vijay Mallya, claiming there was evidence of the two meeting in Parliament for over 15 minutes.
Mallya, who arrived in London in March 2016 and was arrested in April 2017, was present in court as his legal team and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), acting on India's behalf, reiterated and substantiated points made at earlier hearings on loans from IDBI Bank.
Mallya had told reporters outside a court in London, where he is fighting extradition to India, that he had met Jaitley to settle matters. Jaitley also issued a clarification over the matter in his Facebook post.
"Since 2014, I have never given him (Mallya) any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise", said Jaitley.
However, the liquor baron's serious allegations have given the Congress enough ammo to target the Finance Minister. I met the finance minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks. I do remember on one occasion he misused his privileges as member of Rajya Sabha and while I was walking out of Rajya Sabha to my room, he paced up towards me in Parliament building and suggested that he was going to make some offer of settlement.
In London, responding to further questions by reporters following Jaitley's statement dismissing his claims, Mallya said, "I am afraid this is a controversy created by my friends in media". "And therefore, to convey an impression that he met me with an offer of settlement and if this is what he is referring to then this is not correct and he must come out with the complete facts", Jaitley said. Later, Vijay Mallya too backtracked, confirming the minister's version of events. That is the truth.' However, he did not mention that it was Arun Jaitley. I even did not receive any paper from him at that time.More news: Henry Cavill reportedly quits as DC's Superman
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He said Mallya's claim is a vindication of the Congress's stand that the government always knew about the fleeing defaulters. He has been engaged in a legal battle over his extradition to India on charges of banking fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crore.
India wants to extradite 62-year-old Indian businessman from Britain to face criminal action relating to loans taken out by his defunct Kingfisher Airlines and Indian authorities want to recover about $1.4 billion they say Kingfisher owes.
Mallya has been on bail on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April previous year, responded to the swarm of reporters gathered outside the court in his characteristic manner, saying the "courts will decide".
The Congress also said on its official Twitter handle that Mallya met Jaitley "several times" before escaping the country to discuss a settlement plan.
He said there were CCTV cameras, and "we can all see that for proof".