On Tuesday, February 28, when Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was at a meeting with his UK counterpart Philip Hammond (Chancellor of the Exchequer), British Prime Minister Theresa May dropped in and the issue of "certain individuals who have overstayed" in the UK was raised subsequently, officials told Press Trust of India (PTI). It was an apparent reference to liquor baron Vijay Mallya who took shelter in the UK after failing to pay off loans in India. The Indian authorities have not got hold of the man for a year now.
The British premier arrived at the meeting while Jaitley-Hammond meeting was underway at the latter's office in 11 Downing Street in London. Besides the overstaying individuals, issues like Brexit and its implications on the India-UK ties were focussed on during the talks, the PTI report added.
"It sends a signal, like her visit to India did last November when she chose the country as her first outside Europe. The message on Brexit was that it is not a mandate for protectionism and that the UK looks forward to being an open trading nation outside the European Union (EU)," PTI quoted sources as saying.
Once called the "King of Good Times", Mallya, who was the chief of Kingfisher Airlines, which faced a shutdown in 2012, had fled to UK in March last year after 17 banks began legal action to recover around Rs 6,963 crore owed by the carrier.
In February this year, the Indian government formally requested the UK authorities to extradite him to India to face trial for alleged loan default and money laundering.
Besides, Jaitley and Hammond discussed the forthcoming India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue and the India-UK sub-fund under the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.
Jitley, who is on a five-day trip to the European country, also attended a meeting with UK-based investors organised by JP Morgan. The Union finance minister will return after a final meeting with investors at an event organised by the Confederation of British Industry.
According to PTI, at a media briefing on Monday (February 27), Jaitley said: "As far as the Government of India is concerned, we take this issue of defaults against the financial system in India very seriously and we have already sent a strong signal that if [you] dupe the exchequer or dupe the banking system, the Government of India will lend its full support to all financial institutions to recover up to their last pie."
However, Mallya is not the only Indian to flee the country. Arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari fled to London in December 2016 after he was found to be in possession of sensitive military procurement documents.
Another eminent Indian who fled India is former IPL commissioner, Lalit Modi. He had fled to the UK in 2010 after citing threats to his family's safety when he was sacked on accusations of breaching confidential agreements, indulging in financial irregularities in broadcast deals and rigging of auctions.