Vijay Mallya has made an offer to banks struggling to recover more than Rs 9000 crores from his Kingfisher Airlines: he will arrange to repay 4,000 crores by September. His lawyers submitted a copy of the details to the Supreme Court today, which has given banks a week to respond.
According to a report by NDTV, Mr Mallya's uncomplicated exit from the country earlier this month incited political recriminations, with the opposition asking why the liquor baron who dubbed himself "The King of Good Times" was able to travel abroad at a time when banks are desperate for his airline, which stopped functioning in 2012, to repay its loans.
On Twitter, which he uses regularly, Mr Mallya, who is in the UK, has stressed that he is a parliamentarian who will obey laws and is not escaping his debts; however, the 60-year-old has refused to comply with two orders to make himself available for interrogation in Mumbai.
The judges asked his lawyers today when he plans to return to India; they responded that since he is available via video conference, there's no urgent need for him to head home, and he should not be considered an absconder.
It is not clear yet whether what Mallya is offering to banks is a One Time Settlement (OTS) of Rs4000 crore (while his total dues are Rs9000 crore) or whether he plans to pay the remaining amount too to banks.
For years, banks - many of them state-run - continued to loan Kingfisher Airlines vast amounts though its financial fractures were no secret. The CBI is investigating whether bank officials colluded with Mr Mallya to keep the money coming. Another aspect of the inquiry is whether Vijay Mallya siphoned large parts of the loan abroad, falsely claiming that he was settling bills for services like parking his planes at international airports.
The entrepreneur has denied all charges.
Mr Mallya inherited a fortune and then went on to multiply it largely on the strength of his best-selling Kingfisher Beer.