New Delhi: As the ruling BJP confronts a raging controversy over Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj helping former IPL boss Lalit Modi obtain British travel papers in July last year when his passport was held by Indian authorities, has raised questions.
Mr Modi, who moved from India to London in 2010 after being named in corruption cases, had done a sweetheart deal with Mrs Raje’s son.Tainted cricket honcho Lalit Modi did have also extensive business dealings with the son of Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje Shri Dushyant Singh, BJP-MP, her party admitted, while insisting that the transactions were legitimate and that all due taxes were paid. Chief Minister Vasundra Raje also sent a letter for the travel document separately in which she said that her involvement should be kept secret.
We are publishing here Congress Party allegation which needs to be addressed.
Sushma Swaraj’s Conduct Raises Several Questions, says Chidambaram
I wish to make a brief statement on the controversy surrounding Mr Lalit Modi that has been highlighted in the media during the last few days. In or about 2010, the Enforcement Directorate was investigating certain matters concerning Mr Lalit Modi. At the request of the ED, Mr Lalit Modi’s passport was cancelled in or about 2011.
I returned as Minister of Finance on 1-8-2012. During a routine briefing, I was briefed about the cases being investigated by the ED, including the case concerning Mr Lalit Modi. ED reported that Mr Lalit Modi had left India and was, at that time, in the United Kingdom without a valid passport. ED had issued show cause notices and summons to appear to Mr Lalit Modi, but he had not appeared in person. ED, therefore, requested that I may take up the matter with my counterpart, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr George Osborne. After due consultations within the government, it was decided that I may take up the matter with the UK Chancellor. Mr Osborne and I discussed the matter at a bilateral meeting. I wrote a letter to Mr Osborne to which Mr Osborne replied. In response, I wrote another letter to Mr Osborne.
You will kindly appreciate that I am recalling the events from memory. The letters exchanged between Mr Osborne and me are the best evidence. Both the context and the contents will be known if the letters are made public. The gist of the letters was – and I speak from memory – that Mr Lalit Modi was being investigated under the laws of India; that his passport had been cancelled and he had no right to travel outside India or to remain in the UK; and that the UK government may take steps to send him back to India. I understand that Mr Lalit Modi has made some charges against the UPA government. The charges are laughable and do not deserve a reply. The complete answer to the charges can be found in the letters exchanged between Mr Osborne and me. In a way, Mr Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister, has repelled the charges by confirming that the ED was indeed investigating 16 cases against Mr Lalit Modi and had issued show cause notices to him in 15 of those 16 cases.
However, the matter does not end there. The conduct of Ms Sushma Swaraj, the External Affairs Minister, in facilitating the issue of a travel document to Mr Lalit Modi when his passport stood cancelled and he was avoiding an enquiry by the ED also raises a number of important questions. Since the matter involves the credibility and reputation of a Minister of the Government of India, I shall be very careful in the choice of words in framing my questions; Why is the Government, despite repeated demands, not releasing the letters exchanged between the Finance Minister, India and the Chancellor of Exchequer, UK? If the EAM was inclined to facilitate Mr Lalit Modi’s travel to Portugal on humanitarian grounds, why did she not advise Mr Lalit Modi to apply to the Indian High Commission in London for a temporary travel document to enable him to visit Portugal alone for a limited period? Why did she feel that Mr Lalit Modi, an Indian citizen, should have a UK travel document rather than an Indian travel document? Why did the EAM not insist that Mr Lalit Modi should first return to India as a condition for issue of a temporary travel document on humanitarian grounds?
When the Division Bench of the High Court set aside the cancellation of Mr Lalit Modi’s passport, who took the decision not to file an appeal to the Supreme Court? Was the ED, at whose instance the passport had been cancelled, consulted in the matter? Furthermore, who took the decision to issue a fresh passport to Mr Lalit Modi?
Will the Government make public the file notings on the subject? A passport is a document to travel. To stay in a foreign country, one requires a visa or a permit from that country. Has the Government of India lodged with the UK government its objections to the grant of a long term visa or residency permit to Mr Lalit Modi who has refused to appear before the ED? Mr Lalit Modi now has an Indian passport. He is an Indian citizen subject to Indian laws. What steps has the Government taken since the issue of a fresh passport to enforce the summons issued by the ED? What is Government’s answer to Mr Lalit Modi’s wild charge that his life will be in danger if he returned to India? Is the NDA government incapable of protecting an Indian citizen who is required by the ED to appear for an enquiry?
U.K. confirms Chidambaram’s claim
In yet another twist in the Lalit Modi saga, the U.K. government now confirms that the previous Congress-led government in India did, through official channels, raise the question of Mr. Modi’s resident status in the U.K. “We can confirm that in 2013, Mr. Chidambaram, the then Indian FinanceMinister, raised the question of Mr. Lalit Modi’s resident status with [his counterpart] Mr. [George] Osborne [Chancellor of the Exchequer]. The Minister made sure that he passed on the details to the relevant departments for further action,” was the cryptic reply of a spokesperson from the Treasury office to The Hindu. The “relevant departments” could only have been those of Home and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Mr. Chidambaram had recently called for the Indian government to release the official correspondence between him and Mr. Osborne in which he had urged the British government to send Mr. Modi back to India to face investigations in the 16 cases the Enforcement Directorate had filed against him. Mr. Modi’s passport had been impounded by the Indian government in 2011. Mr. Modi claimed that the former minister had “illegally” revoked his passport.
Modi Gate Scandal
Shri RS Surjewala, In-charge communication, AICC, Shri Gurudas Kamath, G.S. AICC, Shri Sachin Pilot, President Rajasthan PCC and Shri Rameshwar Dudi addressed the media on `17th June, 2015. “In last few days ‘Modi Gate Scandal’ exposed murky dealings, willful lies, unearthing of secret documents, non-disclosure of personal and business interests as also conflict of interest involving the top most BJP leadership. All this was done with a view to dupe and deceive Indian authorities including ED – DRI – Income Tax to help a fugitive, black money operator and money-launderer with active complicity of India’s Foreign Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj as also Rajasthan Chief Minister, Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia. Double speak of BJP leadership in defending the indefensible as also entire web of deceit now stands uncovered before the Nation to see, judge and decide.
Unmistakable Conclusions - Smt. Sushma Swaraj And Lalit Modi
Admittedly and as per facts now released by Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Finance Ministry, Lalit Modi is accused of FEMA violations as also money-laundering estimated at nearly Rs.1,700 crore. There are as many as 16 cases with ED pending against him. On 16th June, 2015; Shri Arun Jaitley and Shri Rajnath Singh held a press conference. Shri Arun Jaitley clearly stated that –
(a) Lalit Modi is wanted by the law. Indian authorities would arrest him and
(b) A light blue corner notice has been issued against Lalit Modi by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) at the instance of ED and it is in operation. Shri Mohd. Abdi, Attorney & Counsel for Lalit Modi released documents running into 250 pages on 15th June, 2015 followed by Shri Abdi’s interview with a prominent TV channel. Lalit Modi himself gave a comprehensive interview on 16th June, 2015 to another prominent TV channel. Pursuant to release of documents and video interviews, following 10 unmistakable conclusions stand out:-
(i) Smt. Sushma Swaraj was maintaining a family relationship with a fugitive of law, a FEMA violator and a moneylaunderer for last over 20 years, both as a Leader of Opposition with Cabinet status and then as Union External Affairs Minister.
(ii) Smt. Sushma Swaraj’s husband and daughter were lawyers for Lalit Modi for over 20 years and four years respectively with full knowledge that she (Smt. Sushma Swaraj) was holding a Ministry dealing with the case of Lalit Modi.
(iii) Smt. Sushma Swaraj never disclosed this relationship with Lalit Modi either to the Ethics Committee of Parliament or to GOI in terms of Rules of Business governing the conduct of Ministers.
(iv) Smt. Sushma Swaraj received telephonic calls in July 2014 as Foreign Minister to help a fugitive i.e. Lalit Modi, who, according to Indian Finance Minister, was guilty of money-laundering and was liable to be arrested in pursuance of a blue corner notice issued by DRI. Lalit Modi states that by helping him, Smt. Sushma Swaraj was righting a wrong committed by UPA. Lalit Modi says, “She (Smt. Sushma Swaraj) obliges me rightfully so……”.
(v) In July, 2014 itself, Smt. Sushma Swaraj herself spoke to British Envoy, Sir James Bevan to help such a fugitive get travel documents from UK Government. She, in the process, over-ruled all objections of Government of India qua repatriation of Lalit Modi to face prosecution in India. She did not consult even the then Foreign Secretary, Ms Sujata Singh or her own Ministry. She also chose not to consult Finance Ministry or ED or DRI before overruling the objections originally raised and communicated to UK Government by Finance Ministry.
(vi) Smt. Sushma Swaraj also recommended the case of Lalit Modi to Chairman, Home Affairs Committee, House of Commons, UK – Shri Keith Vaz to grant travel documents to Lalit Modi.
(vii) On grant of travel documents, Lalit Modi sent a ‘thank you’ e-mail to husband and daughter of Smt. Sushma Swaraj.
(viii) Smt. Sushma Swaraj or her Foreign Ministry did not appeal against the Division Bench judgment dated 27.08.2014 overturning the Single Bench Judgment qua confiscation of passport of Lalit Modi. Incidentally her daughter was counsel for Lalit Modi in this case before the Division Bench when it was decided against decision of Foreign Ministry confiscating the passport. Smt. Sushma Swaraj or her Foreign Ministry never took opinion of counsel for Foreign Ministry, Shri Rajiv Mehra, who appeared before Single and Division Bench qua filing of appeal in Supreme Court. Shri Rajiv Mehra now states that, “It (appeal to the Supreme Court) should have been done. Normally, it is automatically done…..”. Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley also stated on 16th June, 2015 that, “Decision to appeal against Delhi High Court’s order is the concern of Foreign Ministry”. Thus, Smt. Sushma Swaraj helped attain the High Court order in favour of Lalit Modi. An appeal to Supreme Court could possibly have led to re-confiscation of Lalit Modi’s passport.
(ix) Smt. Sushma Swaraj, by her humanitarian gesture’ (as she says), has permitted a fugitive and money-launderer not only to travel from UK to Portugal but has also facilitated his travel for holidays resort town of Ibiza (4th August, 2014) and back to his hideout in UK to escape the Indian law and authorities, who, according to Finance Minister, were chasing him for arrest.
(x) Smt. Sushma Swaraj could not have done all this without, as Shri Jaitley says, collective responsibility of the Cabinet. Responsibility and knowledge of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi is, thus, writ large.
Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia And Lalit Modi
Shocking revelations by Lalit Modi and his counsel-cumattorney, Shri Mohd. Abdi backed by a string of documentary evidence reflect Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia’s criminal complicity in promoting, protecting and shielding a fugitive of law besides gross misconduct and quid pro quo on her part. Following may be perused:-
(i) Relationship between Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Lalit Modi goes back to nearly 30 years as admitted by both of them.
(ii) Documents released by Lalit Modi’s counsel, Shri Mohd. Abdi on 15th June, 2015 contain:-
(a) An application/representation dated 25th August, 2011 made by Shri Roger Gherson (Modi’s socilitor) seeking permission to remain in UK. This is duly signed by the solicitor. First para of the application states that application is supported by four persons including Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia.
(b) A partial statement dated 18th August, 2011 (without last few pages containing signatures) of Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia is attached to the aforesaid application wherein Smt. Scindia had stated that she is making this statement on the strict condition that ‘her assistance will not be known to Indian authorities’.
(iii) Lalit Modi in a video statement dated 16th June, 2015 unequivocally states that a signed statement was, indeed, given by Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia.
(iv) An e-mail dated 3rd February, 2013 purported to emanate (subject to further verification) from Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia’s account addressed to Shri Roger Gherson (solicitor for Lalit Modi) states that she was ready to give evidence before the Tribunal in UK but for her appointment as President of Rajasthan BJP on 2nd February, 2013 to lead the Rajasthan Assembly elections for BJP requiring her to stay in India. She further points out that, “looking to the confidentiality and sensitivity of the matter, I am advised that appearing on video link to give evidence would be a risk that I should avoid. However, I reconfirm the contents of the statement signed by me and also filed with the FTT and I ask that you explain my position to the FTT”.
(v) Lalit Modi appears to confirm this sequence of events when he (in his interview dated 16th June, 2015) points out that, “by the time case went to trial, she (Smt. Scindia) was already Chief Minister, she did not come to become a witness”. The statements she gave (all) are on the record of the case”.
(vi) Lalit Modi further points out that Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia accompanied Lalit Modi’s wife Menal Modi to Portugal twice in the years 2012 and 2013 as he could not travel on account of embargo on his travel at that time.
(vii) Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia does not deny either the documents released by Shri Mohd. Abdi or the e-mails or Lalit Modi’s assertions. She merely states, “I don’t know the documents you are talking about”. This evasive answer is a clear admission of facts on her part.
(viii) Lalit Modi’s company Anand’s Heritage Hotels Private Limited received a big amount of Rs.21 crore from Vilton Investment Limited i.e. a Mauritius based unknown entity.
In an apparent act of collusion, Lalit Modi’s company i.e. Anand Heritage extended a unsecured loan of Rs.3.80 crore and purchased 815 shares of Rs.10 each at a premium of Rs.96,190 per share i.e. for a total of Rs.7.80 crore in Niyant Heritage Hotels Private Limited – a company owned by Smt. Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant and his wife Niharika. Incidentally, total paid up capital of this company is only Rs.10 lakh. This by itself speaks volume about relationship and complicity.
(ix) Lalit Modi and his wife visit Lisbon, Portugal based ‘Champalimaud Foundation’, Lisbon, Portugal between 1st and 4th August, 2014 allegedly for her treatment.
Coincidentally, Rajasthan BJP Government headed by Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia entered into a MOU with same ‘Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal’ on 2nd October, 2014 i.e. after 58 days to set up an institution in Jaipur, Rajasthan. This institution was allocated 35000 square metres prime land (8.6 acres) worth several hundred crores. Although full facts are to be disclosed but as it has come out (subject to full verification) that Government of Rajasthan has committed an aid amount of Rs.30 crore to this Foundation. Prima facie, no due process involving tendering etc. has been followed in providing this huge out-of-turn favour to an institution whose claim and credence appears to be that it treated Lalit Modi’s wife.
Going by the nature of pecuniary relationship between Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Lalit Modi, this entire deal is shrouded in mystery and smacks of wrongdoing.
Constitutional Impropriety, Misuse Of Office And Criminal Culpability
Aforesaid clinching facts demonstrate that both the Union External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj and BJP Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia have committed gross Constitutional impropriety, have blatantly misused their offices - both as Leaders of Opposition (in Lok Sabha and Rajasthan Assembly) and later as Union Minister and Rajasthan Chief Minister. They both need to be sacked without delay by BJP leadership instead of defending the indefensible.
Besides the above, there is a clear-cut culpability on part of both the Union External Affairs Minister and Rajasthan Chief Minister under Sections 107, 120-B, 166A, 172, 173, 177, 217 and 221 of Indian Penal Code. Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia also needs to be prima facie investigated for offences under Prevention of Corruption Act. Shri C.P. Joshi, General Secretary, AICC and Senior Spokesperson, AICC has issued the following statement to the Press on 18th June, 2015 :- “Unholy nexus, criminal intent and rampant corruption between BJP leadership and black money-launderer, Lalit Modi is being witnessed by the entire Nation through a series of documents, e-mails, video statements and facts.
Clear-cut offences under Prevention of Corruption Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Foreign Exchange Management Act, Indian Penal Code are made out against External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj as also Rajasthan Chief Minister, Smt. Vasundhara Raje. Facts now clearly establish the murky dealings, round tripping of ill-gotten money and exchange of mutual benefits between Lalit Modi and Rajasthan Chief Minister, Smt. Vasundhara Raje. It is not just a monetary relationship where Lalit Modi’s Black Money is being made ‘White’ by Smt. Raje and her kins (son and daughter-in-law) but also a political relationship that stood for decades. Mutual pecuniary and political interests of Lalit Modi and Raje bonded them together.
If we go through Page Nos. 13 (Paras-42, 43); Page No. 23 (Para- 75); Page No. 33 (Para-88) of the Affidavit/Statement dated 25.08.2011 submitted by Lalit Modi before UK Border Agency, we easily come to the conclusion about his political leanings and outstandingly close relationship with the Rajasthan Chief Minister. It not only establishes the fact that they were working in tandem in committing blatant illegalities but also rubbishes Smt. Raje’s claim of ‘not being aware of any documents’. These signed documents submitted and circulated by Lalit Modi, not only blast Smt. Raje’s claims but also directly establish the close, criminally symbiotic and therefore questionable relationship between them.
It also proves beyond doubt that the Congress Government in the state and the UPA government at the centre did the rightful act of unearthing this corrupt nexus of Lalit Modi pursuant to which, he fled the country and which prompted his benefactors in the BJP- Smt. Sushma Swaraj and Smt. Vasundhara Raje into protecting, promoting and shielding him. Some excerpts of the Modi Statement/Affidavit dated 25.08.2011 submitted to UK Border Agency
Smt. Vasundhara Raje and Lalit Modi were, thus, in direct collusion in –
1. Creation of black money through corrupt dubious means;
2. Secondly, converting the black money thus created into white through the Mauritius route, and
3. Thirdly, pumping it back into India, where Lalit Modi pumped back investments into family companies of Smt. Raje owned by her son and daughter-in-law; and
4. Smt. Vasundhara Raje submitted a statement before UK Border Agency supporting the case of Lalit Modi – a fugitive and asking the UK authorities to not disclose the statement to Indian authorities. Mentioned below are the details of the complaint that forms the basis of a writ petition, which was decided by Division Bench of Delhi High Court in CWP No. 7544 of 2013 on 6th January, 2015 on the undertaking of Additional Solicitor General of India to take action. No action has, however, been taken till today. Proving active complicity of Government of India including Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi in helping Smt. Vasundhara Raje.
Round Tripping of Funds- How Black Money was created into White:
That the details of M/s Wilton Investment Ltd. are that it is a Mauritius-based fictitious company, whose address is - “Wilton Investment Ltd. 4th Floor, Ebene Skies, Rude, institute Eben, Mauritius”.
That Ananda Heritage Hotels Private Limited (AHHPL) of Lalit Modi acquired funds fictitiously as under:-
(i) It invited fictitious share applications and on the basis of such share applications a sum of Rs.10,33,15,733/- was shown to be deposited. Since the shareholders were fictitious, balance amount of shares was not deposited and therefore a sum of Rs.10,33,15,733/- which was fictitiously deposited was forfeited earning the company this money.
(ii) The Mauritius-based Wilton Investment Limited was shown to have purchased 2,10,83,348 shares of Rs.10/- per share of AHHPL @ Rs.10/- per share and in this manner, a sum of Rs.21,08,33,480/- was diverted from Mauritiusbased company to AHHPL i.e. Lalit Modi’s company. How the loot was transferred to Smt. Vasundhara Raje: That AHHPL of Lalit Modi diverted funds to Niyant Heritage Hotels Private Limited (NHHPL) of Smt. Vasundhara Raje’s family as under:-
(i) AHHPL gave unsecured loan to NHHPL amounting to Rs.3,80,00,000/- although there was hardly any business activity of NHHPL.
(ii) AHHPL of Lalit Modi purchased on 1.4.2008, 395 shares of NHHPL of Rs.10/- per share @ Rs.96,190/- per share and in this manner diverted Rs.3,79,99,000/- to NHHPL further on 21.9.2009 it again purchased 420 shares of Rs.10/- per share @ 96,190/- per share and in this manner diverted Rs.4,03,99,800/-.
(iii) That Directors of NHHPL are Dushyant Raje (having 5000 shares of Rs.10/- per share i.e. a total investment of Rs.50,000/) and Smt. Niharika Raje, wife of Dushyant Raje (having 5000 shares of Rs.10/- per share i.e. a total investment of Rs.50,000/). Shri Dushyant Raje is son of Smt. Vasundhara Raje. Even the total authorized capital of this company was Rs.10,00,000/-. From the above, it is crystal clear that in the first instance, money was brought in the company of Lalit Modi i.e. AHHPL though the route of fictitious share applications and through Mauritius-based company and thereafter AHHPL of Lalit Modi gave loan to NHHPL of Smt. Vasundhara Raje and also purchased 815 shares of Rs.10/- each at a premium of Rs.96,190/- i.e. for a total amount of Rs.7,80,00,000/-. What could be more direct and substantive indictment of the Chief Minister of Rajasthan? With all this in public domain, the Congress Party reiterates its demand for immediate resignation of Smt. Sushma Swaraj and Smt. Vasundhara Raje and demands a thorough and impartial probe by a Supreme Court monitored SIT.”
Pseudo Nationalism, False Patriotism
Prime Minister,Shri Narendra Modi promised a corruptionfree government, an accountable and transparent government and a government that would bring back black money. Presently, Prime Minister and his government are proving to be the biggest benefactors and protectors of those of black money hoarderers, money-launderers and fugitives. Indian National Congress wants to ask – Is this BJP’s false patriotism? Is this BJP’s sudo nationalism? Are these ‘Achhe Din’?” Clear-cut offences under Prevention of Corruption Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Foreign Exchange Management Act