Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, who is fighting a legal battle in the U.K. to avoid extradition to India to face possible fraud charges, offered Wednesday to pay back the entire principal amount of the loans that he owes several banks.
In a series of tweets Mallya said that he had offered to the banks holding his debts that he would repay “100% of the principal amount to them. Please take it.”
Mallya left India in March 2016 with debts of more than $1 billion hanging over his head from his shuttered carrier Kingfisher Airlines. Since then, the self-styled “King of Good Times” has been portrayed by some politicians as the embodiment of India’s heedless corporate expansions that left the country’s banks saddled with billions of dollars of unpaid debts that are hindering economic growth.
Mallya has always disputed accusations that he fled to the U.K. to avoid bad debts.
On Wednesday, he challenged the claims by some media organizations that his offer to repay came just days ahead of his extradition verdict, and a day after a British businessman was handed over to Indian authorities in an unrelated bribery for helicopters case.
“Usual nonsense!” he said in response to a tweet by TV channel TimesNow, adding, “I have made settlement offers since 2016. Check your facts.”
In response to a tweet by TV channel CNNnews18 asking if Mallya had been “spooked” by the extradition of the British businessman, Mallya said, “Please check facts. Extradition and my settlement offer are completely unrelated. I filed my settlement offer in court months ago. I want to pay the banks and stop the rhetoric that I stole money.”
Mallya was last on Forbes list of billionaires in 2012. He sold a controlling stake in his flagship United Spirits to Diageo in 2014. Earlier this year, he lost control of his other passion, his Force India Formula One team.