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Reuters/Vivek Prakash
I never said that!
DENIAL

Vijay Mallya calls newspaper interview with him fake—The Sunday Guardian stands by its report

By Itika Sharma Punit

Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya, currently at an undisclosed location even as a massive loan default probe involving him is underway back home, has denied giving an interview to a Delhi-based newspaper last week. The interview, which appeared on The Sunday Guardian’s website on March 12, had stated that Mallya did not feel it was the right time for him to return to India.

“I am an Indian to the core. Of course I want to return. But I’m not sure I’ll get a fair chance to present my side. I’ve already been branded as criminal. I do not feel the time is right,” the email interview published by The Sunday Guardian had quoted Mallya as saying.

Mallya left India on March 2 and has been criticised for “absconding” at a time when his beleaguered venture, Kingfisher Airlines, owes Rs9,000 crore ($1.5 billion) to 17 Indian banks.

The “king of good times” took to Twitter today (March 15) evening—two days after the interview was published—and said, “shocked to see Sunday Guardian’s claim that I exchanged mails with them from my protonmail account. Have never heard of protonmail before.”

The Sunday Guardian is standing by its interview and has published the emails exchanged with Mallya on its website.

“Mr Mallya personally responded to our email questionnaire from his encrypted email id… This id was confirmed to us by his legal counsel’s office on 8 March,” the newspaper said on its website. “For reasons that are not clear, Mr Mallya has sought to distance himself from the interview. We, however, stand by our report.”

Ironically, on the day the interview appeared, Mallya had tweeted that he was not willing to speak to the press.

Over the last few days, Mallya—often dubbed India’s Richard Branson—has used Twitter to accuse the media of spreading lies about him. But he has not answered pertinent questions: whether and when he plans to return to India?