New Delhi: The BJP today hit back at the Congress over the alleged fraud of Rs 6,712 crore by Winsome Group chairman Jatin Mehta, saying that bank loans to the jeweller were granted during the UPA government and that the party let him flee India on “illegally acquired” passport of Saint Kitts.
The BJP refuted the Congress’s allegations that Mehta ran away from the country after non-payment of bank loans and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was providing protection to him.
“The Congress’s allegations are nothing but logical absurdity. The party is speaking blatant lies. Advances to Mehta were granted between September 2010 and March 2013 during the Congress-led UPA government. And his last entry and exit into India was on the same day on July 25, 2013 and everyone knows who was in power at that time,” Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters here.
Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters, Puri, a former diplomat, presented the party’s views on the issue with a power-point presentation, and said the diamond baron illegally acquired passport of Saint Kitts, an island country in the West Indies, in November 2012 without renouncing his Indian citizenship and travelled to India on both passports during the Congress-led government’s tenure.
Mehta travelled to India on four occasions on his Indian passport after November 2012 and eight times in 2013 on passport of Saint Kitts, but every time it was “intentionally overlooked” by the then party in power, BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said.
Rao said the Congress not only allowed Mehta to ran away from the country but also helped him do so. It was the BJP-led NDA government who unearthed this “fraud” in December 2014 and declared him a “willful defaulter” in December 2016.
“The Congress did nothing to check this mess in the banking system, but during our government we ensured that complaints were filed in this case and six FIRs were registered in April 2017 against Mehta and his companies,” Rao told reporters.
Earlier this month, Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala alleged that Mehta, who hailed from Palanpur in Gujarat, and his family were allowed to leave India even when there were complaints pending against him with the CBI since February 2014, but an FIR was lodged only in April 2017.
The Congress leader also claimed Mehta’s modus operandi was the same as billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi and his uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi, who are accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 12,636 crore.