Ex-United Spirits boss Vijay Mallya might well be one of the world's most indebted men after he travelled out of India with $1.4bn of debt

Francesca Washtell
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Sahara Force India Press Conference
Vijay Mallya vigorously denies absconding from India while banks insist he has over $1.4bn in debt (Source: Getty)

Is the UK accidentally harbouring one of the world's most indebted men?

Indian drinks boss Vijay Mallya has had to vigorously himself from claims he has become one of the world's most impressive absconders, after it was suggested in the country's Supreme Court that he flew out of India to London on 2 March, leaving some $1.4bn (£980m) in debts.

India's Supreme Court heard he left the country at the start of the month during a trial in which several, mainly state-owned, banks tried to recover their loans.

The country's attorney general, Mukul Rohatgi, spoke on behalf of the banks at the trial on Wednesday, claiming the 60-year-old had left after stepping down as chairman of United Spirits, the Indian arm of Diageo, the British beverage major, following allegations of lapses in payments.

"Please ask Mr Mallya to come back and appear in the supreme court and disclose all his assets," Rohatgi said as he addressed the court.

But Mallya took to Twitter to defend his position as a non-absconder, claiming the allegations he'd left because of his mounting debts were "[r]ubbish" and criticising the Indian media:

On 25 February Diageo announced an agreement with Mallya for his resignation as chairman and non-executive director of United Spirits, which included a financial agreement that provides Mallya with a payment of $75m over a five-year period.

Diageo were not available for comment.

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