Cong can’t blame Centre for Jatin Mehta’s escape: BJP

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday hit out at the Congress party and said the latter cannot blame the incumbent government for the escape of diamond merchant Jatin Mehta.

Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri while addressing a press conference here said all the loans to Mehta were approved between September 2010 and February 2013, and that the diamond merchant never returned to India after 2013.

“These toxic assets (NPAs) were produced during the 10 years of the Congress government… The banking fraud and the loans took place between September 2010 and February 2013. Jatin Mehta came to India and ‘made exit’ on the same day of July 25, 2013 and took citizenship of St. Kitts Island,” Puri said.

Further criticising the Congress, Puri said the BJP had nothing to do with ‘toxic assets’ related with defaulters like Jatin Mehta and Nirav Modi.

“If there was lack of due diligence or there was connivance, it was during the period of previous regime,” he said.

Puri also accused the Congress of colluding with the “dirty department in St Kitts”, and said the matter had come into light during the investigation on Bofors scam.

“I would like to ask when Mehta renounced Indian citizenship and took citizenship of St Kitts, who was in power in India?” he said.

The business tycoon was in December 2016 declared a willful defaulter, he said, disclosing that four complaints were filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in September 2014, November 2015, June 2016 and November 2016.

The minister added the Congress allegations of the Modi government’s involvement in the escape of Mehta was false “as the fact speaks for themselves”.

He asserted the Enforcement Directorate had in May 2016 attached Mehta’s properties and six more FIRs were registered against the merchant and Winsome Group in relation with bank loan default.

Puri said the BJP government initiated action against the trader as soon as it came to power in 2014, and registered fresh complaints against him in 2017.

The Gujarat-based diamond merchant owes more than Rs 6,500 crore to a consortium of banks.

The fresh row over Mehta comes after celebrated jeweller Nirav Modi cheated the Punjab National Bank (PNB) to the tune of more than Rs 11,500 crore.(ANI)