Congress party Monday accused the Modi government of conniving with fraudsters who had escaped the country and claimed “conflict of interest” to demand the sacking of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, saying his daughter and son-in-law, both lawyers, allegedly received a retainership of Rs 24 lakh from fugitive Mehul Choksi.
In the 44 months till January 2018, the Modi government witnessed an unprecedented 19,000 ‘bank fraud cases’ involving Rs 90,000 crore, Congress leader Sachin Pilot said at a press conference along with party colleagues Rajiv Satav and Sushmita Dev.
He also alleged that 23 fraudsters escaped India under the government’s watch after duping the country of over Rs 53,000 crore.
Pilot said a sinking economy, banking frauds and flying fraudsters form part of BJP’s-Jaitley’s ‘New India’ and demanded that the minister should resign on moral grounds.
“Successive escapes of Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and others reflect that Modi government is not a guardian of ‘public money’ but a ‘travel agency’ facilitating ‘fraud, fleece and fly to foreign shores’ of willful bank defaulters,” the three leaders said in a statement.
“Arun Jaitley, being Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, his daughter Sonali Jaitley and son-in-law Jaiyesh Bakhshi proceeded to accept a retainership of Rs 24 lakh from Mehul Choksi’s fraudster company Gitanjali Gems Ltd in December 2017,” Pilot alleged.
However, Jaitley’s son-in-law had earlier issued a statement stating that his law firm had returned the retainership the moment they came to know that the company was involved in a scam.
“Is this not a clear-cut case of Collusion, Connivance’ & ‘Conflict of Interest’ on part of FM Arun Jaitley? Why were FM Jaitley, his daughter and son-in-law neither summoned nor questioned by CBI/ED/SFIO?” the leaders asked in the statement.
“Is it not a fit case to sack Shri Arun Jaitley and conduct a full independent investigation?” they added.
Pilot and the other leaders also sought to know why no action was taken against Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi, Geetanjali Gems Ltd and others, despite FIRs and multiple complaints.
“Who protected them?” they asked.
“Why were daughter and son-in-law of FM Arun Jaitley paid Rs.24 lakh by Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems Ltd. without doing any work, as admitted by them? Who else are the clients of ‘Chambers of Jaitley & Associates’ paying retainership of lakhs of rupees and why should their names not be made public, including amounts received?
“As people who owed money to Mehul Choksi/Nirav Modi came forward & deposited the money with Govt after their fraudulent escape, why did FM Jaitley’s daughter & son-in-law redeposit Rs.24 Lakh in the account of a company that had defrauded the banks & people of Rs.26,306 Cr? Why did they hide it?” the statement from the three leaders said.
Addressing the press conference, the Congress leaders said the Modi government was more loyal to “conmen” than to the common man as “it not only helped them escape the country after defrauding banks worth crores, but also provided them protection and legal protection”.