Winsome diamonds bank fraud case: BJP explains ‘how Congress govt favoured Jatin Mehta’

New Delhi:A day after BJP raised the bogey of diamond merchant Jatin Mehta and the row about his leaving the country during UPA regime in 2013, the saffron party on Tuesday alleged that the fugitive business tycoon was given “privilege” in obtaining the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card by the UPA government.

“He (Jatin Mehta) acquired the nationality of St. Kitts in 2012 and used the same passport to travel to India for eight times. He took citizenship of St. Kitts before expiry of his Indian passport. It seems that he was given privilege in obtaining OCI card,” Union Minister and BJP leader Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters here.

He said there is no justification in Congress trying to put the blame on the Modi government as the fugitive Winsome Group chairman never came to India after 2013.

‘These toxic assets (NPAs) were produced during the 10 years of the UPA rule… whatever the banking fraud, all those loans were taken between September 2010 and February 2013. In other words, if there was lack of due diligence or there was connivance — that was entirely during the period of previous regime,’ he said.

“Most of the advances or Letters of Credit or all the loans were taken between September 2010 and February 2013. If there was lack of due diligence or there was connivance in the banking sector to make these advances available, that was entirely during the previous UPA regime,” said Mr Puri, a former diplomat.

The Congress party has alleged that the businessman had duped banks of over Rs 6,000 crore during NDA regime and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been maintaining silence on the issue.

“Many of these loans, bulk of these, took place during UPA 2. There were some loans of earlier vintage which go back to UPA 1,” the Union minister countered the Congress charges.

He said Jatin Mehta came to India and ‘made exit’ on the same date in July 25, 2013 and had taken citizenship of St Kitts Island.
The minister went on to remark that during the investigation on Bofors, it had also come to light that there was some nexus between the Congress and the ‘dirty department in St Kitts’.

‘I would like to ask when Mehta renounced Indian citizenship and took citizenship of St Kitts, which party power was in India ? ‘
Mr Puri asked and claimed that within months of NDA government coming to power, Mehta’s business dealings and financial transactions were declared ‘fraud’ in December 2014.

He further said in December 2016, Mehta was declared a ‘wilful defaulter’ and disclosed that four complaints were filed by the CBI in September 2014, November 2015, June 2016 and November 2016.

‘So, the Congress allegation that the Modi government helped Jatin Mehta is totally false as the fact speaks for themselves,’ he said, adding that in fact, by May 2016, the Enforcement Directorate had also attached Mehta’s properties.

He said that the NDA government initiated action against Mehta soon after it came to power in 2014.

“The first complaint against him was filed in September 2014. The CBI and the ED registered cases against him as the scale of corruption came into notice. At least six FIRs were registered in 2017 only and these were fresh cases”.

On Monday, another BJP leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that if the probe is pursued further in Jatin Mehta case, the Congress leadership would be embarrassed.

‘Baat niklegi toh phir dur talak jaegi (If things start coming out, it will go far off),” Mr Prasad had said.

Media reports say that Gujarat-based diamond merchant and owner of Winsome Diamonds Jatin Mehta owes more than Rs 6,500 crore to a consortium of banks – with the biggest hit being the Punjab National Bank with a loss of more than Rs 1,700 crore.

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