NEW DELHI (TIP): Congress and AAP on April 7 targeted finance minister Arun Jaitley on the Panama Papers issue, demanding a judicial probe into the allegations about some Indians setting up offshore entities in a tax haven and asking him to “recuse” from dealing with the matter.
The parties made their demands arguing that otherwise there cannot be a fair probe into reports linking sports promoter Lokesh Sharma to alleged entities floated in the tax haven of British Virgin Islands (BVI).
The demands came in the wake of reports in the Indian Express based on an investigation by it as well as International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) alleging that Sharma had two companies “of his own” registered in BVI.
However, Sharma, managing director of sports management major Twenty First Century Media (TCM) Pvt Ltd, said, that the companies in question “have been set up legitimately with due processes as provided by the laws of India.”
Besides raking up Sharma’s case, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh alleged at a press conference that ICIJ had done another investigation a year ago alleging that Abhishek Singh, BJP MP and son of Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, was holding offshore assets, a charge denied by the MP.
Ramesh demanded that Singh and his son should quit their posts, citing the case of Iceland Prime Minister who has stepped aside after his name figured in the Panama Papers.
Stepping up the Congress offensive on the leakage of the Panama Papers linking some 500 Indians to entities in the tax haven, Ramesh demanded that Jaitley “recuse” himself from any probe into the matter in the wake of reports about Sharma, whose “closeness to some senior BJP leaders is well known”.
Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP, which has a running battle with Jaitley, latched on to the Panama Papers leak to target Jaitley and demanded his resignation.
Reacting to the charges levelled by Congress and AAP, Sharma said it was unfortunate that a political twist was being given to investments which were “completely personal, totally legal and declared by us in our reporting to statutory bodies”.