Economic offenders Bill a face-saving exercise: Congress

New Delhi: After fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi was reportely located in the small Carribean island nation of Antigua, the Congress on Wednesday accused the Narendra Modi government of “hurriedly” bringing the Economic Offender Fugitive Bill in Parliament as a “face-saving exercise.”

“Three months after PM Modi meets Antigua’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Mehul Choksi gets Antigua’s passport,” said Congress leader Rajeev Gowda at a press conference.

Modi had met his Antiguan counterpart in London in April this year on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

“Nirav Modi (another fugitive jeweller in the PNB fraud) i.e. Chhota Modi is globetrotting and Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Mehul Bhai’ i.e Choksi gets an Antigua passport after Nirav visited China, Belgium, UK, US, UAE and Hong Kong.

“Investigation agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have failed to get a ‘red corner notice (RCN)’ issued against him (Choksi) till today,” Gowda said.

Gowda also said: “Modi government is hurriedly trying to hide behind the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill as it has failed in its fight against black money.”

“After four years, deposits in Swiss banks have gone up by 50 per cent. When cornered on these hard facts, a rattled Finance Minister Piyush Goyal is flashing new statistics, new methodology and newer lies to mislead the people,” he said.

He also asked what happened to Modi’s promise of bringing back Rs 80 lakh crore of black money stashed aboard.

“There are wide legal loopholes in the hurriedly brought Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill. If the constitutionally problematic sections are struck down, nothing worthwhile shall remain in the bill,” said Gowda.

Noting that if black money moves out of India, “it doesn’t move in a direct manner from India to Switzerland, but via various tax havens like Cayman Islands, Hong Kong etc”, he said that Nirav Modi and Choksi also went to Hong Kong and UAE, but the Modi government was not revealing this.

To a question on increase in FDI inflow and money coming from Cayman Island, Congress leader Gourav Vallabh said: “You will be surprised that majority of money comes from all the tax havens.”

“The money in Swiss accounts is reduced to a drastic level and the money goes to some other tax havens and from that tax havens it enters the country and that precisely is called a ‘round tripping’.”