British Prime Minister Theresa May dropped into a meeting between Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his UK counterpart during which the issue of “certain individuals who have overstayed” figured.
Jaitley met the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, at his office in No 11 Downing Street in London.
The British Prime Minister’s move to drop in during the meeting was described as a “warm gesture” and an indication of the strong focus the UK has on improving relations with India.
Brexit and its implications on India-UK ties and the issue of “certain individuals who have overstayed their welcome” in Britain, in an apparent reference to liquor baron Vijay Mallya, were among the topics that were touched upon during the “drop in”, official sources told media.
“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),” the sources said.
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.
During his talks with Hammond, Jaitley discussed a range of issues centred around the forthcoming India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue and the India-UK sub-fund under the National Infrastructure Fund.
Earlier in the day, the Minister held meetings with UK-based investors organised by JP Morgan.
Following a final meeting with UK-based investors organised by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), he will be heading back to India at the end of his five-day tour of the UK.
Jaitley yesterday said that India takes the issue of defaulters very seriously.
“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,” Jaitley had told reporters at a media briefing.
“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 had said.
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”.
Jaitley represented the Indian Government at a gala launch of the UK-India Year of Culture hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in London last night