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Chidambaram pushed 80:20 gold scheme despite DRI warning on black money and laundering

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    Former Union Minister, P Chidambaram would find himself in a spot of bother after the Public Accounts Sub Committee sought a CBI probe against him for the controversial 80:20 gold import scheme. The PAC has alleged that Chidambaram had ignored objections of the Department of Revenue Intelligence.

    P Chidambaram

    The PAC's Sub Committee headed by BJP MP, Nishikant Dubey found that Chidambaram had approved the controversial gold import scheme by ignoring objections of the DRI.

    It may be recalled that Union Law Minister, Ravishankar Prasad had said that Chidambaram should answer why he approved the scheme in the last days of the UPA government. What the need for the RBI to approve the scheme with such speed.

    The Sub Committee found that the DRI was not in favour of the 80:20 gold import scheme that was launched in 2013 when Chidambaram was the finance minister. The DRI had hinted that the scheme would lead to round-tripping of black money and money laundering.

    The Sub Committee decided to recommend a CBI inquiry into the procedures that were followed by Chidambaram in launching this scheme.

    Also Read | PNB scam: Raghuram Rajan was warned about 80:20 gold scheme by jewellery industry

    The BJP it may be recalled accused Chidambaram of granting several private firms including PNB scam accused, Gitanjali Gems, gold import benefits on the day of the counting of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP also sought to know how many cuts was given and to whom for the decision.

    Prasad targeted the Congress and Chidambaram, whose son Karti Chidambaram has been arrested by the CBI in a corruption case, at a press conference which was described by the BJP as an "expose on the politics of lies and deceit" of the opposition party.

    Prasad alleged that the then Congress-led UPA government "destroyed" the economy by not letting the real stressed assets get reflected in banks' books and said total advances given by banks in the last six years of its rule rose to Rs 52.15 lakh crore from Rs 18.06 lakh crore in 2008.

    Only 36 per cent of these advances were identified as stressed assets but they rose to 82 per cent, he said, alleging that under the then "so-called economist" prime minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram, the banking system was "sought to be derailed by interventions, patronage and pressure".

    However, it was Chidambaram who was the main target of the ruling party.

    He, Prasad alleged, gave seven private firms benefits under 80:20 gold import scheme on May 16, 2014, the day Narendra Modi-led BJP was swept to power, ousting the UPA.

    "What does it mean? On May 16, the Manmohan Singh government is losing, P Chidambaram's chair is in danger... Chidambaram and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi should tell us why this order to benefit seven private firms was passed on that day. Is it corruption or jumla (rhetoric)?" he asked.

    They want a true picture of Chidambaram to appear before the country, Prasad said and also sought to target the Congress' top brass as he claimed that the then finance minister was doing so with "blessings" of others.

    It was the "height of shamelessness" to take such a decision on May 16, the BJP leader said, adding that the RBI had cleared it a few days later before the Narendra Modi-led government scrapped the decision within a few months of coming into power.

    "Chidambaram please reply, is it jumla or blatant favouritism, mala fide conduct and rampant corruption? The Congress party should answer who were these people lobbying for Gitanjali and what was the cut," he asked.

    No corrupt people will be spared by the BJP government, he said

    Chidambaram has repeatedly used the term 'jumla' to mock the BJP government's policies.

    The Congress has been resorting to "fear, lies, concoction and confusion" to target the BJP government, he said and spoke about the opposition's campaign on the Rafale deal and several other issues to claim that these were all baseless charges.

    The Congress is anti-reform and that is why it is opposed to Aadhaar and the GST because these measures bring about transparency and curb corruption, he claimed.

    Prasad reiterated the government's stand that no loan given under its tenure had turned into a non-performing asset (NPA).

    He also said Jatin Mehta, a businessman who is also said to have fled India after defaulting on loans, had escaped India in 2012.

    Rahul Gandhi must answer these questions when he returns from Italy, he said. Taking a dig at the Congress chief, Prasad said Gandhi can take his help in use of social media as he was also the IT minister and Gandhi were often found "lacking in homework" in his tweets targeting the government.

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