London, Feb 28: India takes the issue of defaulters very seriously, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said, indicating that he may raise the matter of liquor baron Vijay Mallya with his British counterpart. "Certainly, when the opportunity does come, I do take that opportunity to mention it to my counterparts here," he told reporters here when asked if the issue of defaulters based in the UK will feature on the agenda of his discussions with British ministers.
The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs is set to meet his UK counterpart and the Chancellor of Exchequer on Tuesday. "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 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," Jaitley told reporters at a media briefing here yesterday.
"It is obvious that because of this strong position the government has taken, that some defaulters are on the run. Being on the run, they find refuge in certain other jurisdictions, exploiting the systems in other parts of the world," the minister added. He said Indian investigating agencies are utilising every provision of the law available to them to recover amounts and attach assets in India to "get these people back and held responsible as per law".
Over the weekend, Jaitley had said that the UK's democracy was "liberal enough to permit defaulters to stay here", in an apparent reference to liquor baron Mallya, who is wanted in India for loan default and other cases. Mallya, the chief of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, had moved to Britain in March last year after banks sued him to recover around USD 1.4 billion owed by the airline.
Earlier this month, the Indian government formally requested Britain to extradite him to India to stand trial for alleged loan default and money laundering. Jaitley also said that the UK must realise the importance of Indian students to its economy because they help "subsidise" education costs here.
Referring to a major drop in students coming to study at the UK universities over the last few years, he highlighted that there were other countries that were more welcoming. "They (the UK) have to realise that when international students come here (Britain), they subsidise the educational costs here," he told PTI.
"We already have a reality where the quantum of students coming into the UK is declining and other jurisdictions are available. The UK also is a part of the competitive market in that area," Jaitley said. The minister is in the UK to represent the Indian government at a special reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace to launch the UK-India Year of Culture.