Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday demanded Union Minister Arun Jaitley’s resignation, claiming that his daughter was “on the payroll” of absconding jeweller Mehul Choksi. Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused of defrauding the Punjab National Bank of over Rs 13,500 crore. Both businessmen fled the country earlier this year.
“Arun Jaitlie’s daughter was on the payroll of thief Mehul Choksi,” Gandhi said on Twitter. “Meanwhile her FM [finance minister] daddy sat on his file and allowed him to flee.” Gandhi provided a bank account number from which money was allegedly transferred to Jaitley’s daughter and accused the media of not covering the story.
The Congress has claimed that Jaitley’s daughter Sonali and son-in-law Jayesh Bakhshi, both lawyers, allegedly received a retainership of Rs 24 lakh from Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems Ltd in 2017.
In a statement, Congress leaders Sachin Pilot, Rajiv Satav and Sushmita Dev accused the National Democratic Alliance government of colluding with fraudsters who had escaped the country.
Choksi and Modi are under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation. A CBI court had issued non-bailable warrants against Choksi and Modi. Choksi fled India earlier this year and was granted citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda.
The government recorded an unprecedented 19,000 cases of bank fraud, involving Rs 90,000 crore, till January this year, claimed Pilot. Under the government’s watch, Pilot said 23 fraudsters fled the country after committing frauds of over Rs 53,000 crore.
“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.
“Is this not a clear-cut case of collusion, connivance and conflict of interest on part of FM Arun Jaitley?” they asked. “Why were FM Jaitley, his daughter and son-in-law neither summoned nor questioned by CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation]/ED [Enforcement Directorate]/SFIO [Serious Fraud Investigation Office]? Is it not a fit case to sack Arun Jaitley and conduct a full independent investigation?”
They further said: “As people who owed money to Mehul Choksi/Nirav Modi came forward and deposited the money with the government after their fraudulent escape, why did Jaitley’s and son-in-law redeposit Rs 24 Lakh in the account of a company that had defrauded the and people of Rs 26,306 crore?”
Earlier, Jaitley’s son-in-law said that his law firm had returned the retainership amount as soon as it found out that they company was involved in a scam, reported PTI.
The Congress leaders also sought to know why no action was taken against Choksi, Modi, Gitanjali Gems Ltd and others, despite several complaints and first information reports being filed against them. “Who protected them?” they asked.