BJP attacks Chidambaram on black money case

Says it is Nawaz Sharief moment for the Congress party in India

P Chidambaram. File pic

In a scathing attack on former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in an alleged black money case, the BJP on Sunday said its Nawaz Sharief moment for the Congress party in India.

Last year, the Pakistan Supreme Court had disqualified Mr Sharief from his office of Prime Ministership on a charge of dishonest to Parliament.

The scandal was about alleged money laundering by Mr Sharif in 1990s, when he twice served as prime minister, to purchase assets in London. The assets surfaced when Panama Papers leak in 2016 revealed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children. The assets include four expensive flats in London.

Addressing a press conference here, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “For some time now we have been hearing a lot of action by the I-T authorities against former finance minister P Chidambaram and his family. In India, for the Congress Party, this is the Nawaz Sharif moment. As all of us are aware that due to non disclosure assets held abroad, non-disclosure partly or fully of assets and income earned from abroad.”

The Pakistan Supreme Court had disqualified Nawaz Sharief and the parallels cannot be missed out in this case, she added.

Raking up the undisclosed assets and foreign income, the BJP leader questioned the Congress President Rahul Gandhi and said, “The Congress president, who is also out on bail on a financial matter, should certainly comment and tell people of India if he is going to investigate this senior leader for not having disclosed income held abroad.”

Her reaction came after the Income Tax (IT) department had informed a special court in Chennai that former Union minister P Chidambaram’s wife Nalini, son Karti and daughter-in-law Srinidhi didn’t disclose their foreign assets and investments while filing their I-T returns.

The present chargesheets are for not disclosing, either partly or fully, immovable assets like the one at Cambridge in the UK worth Rs 5.37 crore, property worth Rs 80 lakh in the same country & assets worth Rs.3.28 crore in the US.

As per law, not disclosing foreign assets and investments is violation of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, and it also invites a heavy penalty besides a jail term for up to 10 years.

“In pursuit of black money, the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi because it was a part of promise made by our government that we shall pursue black money held abroad and also black money which is in this country get it out. It was an electoral promise,” Ms Sitharaman said.

In 2015, time was given to disclose the undisclosed assets and income before September 30, 2015 which are held and bring out in the public.

“This act provides for, if proven 120 per cent tax and penalty on those undisclosed assets and incomes and also as when proven, convictions happen also involve a jail term,” the BJP leader added.

As per the Income Tax estimates, Chidambaram ​family’s illegal assets in 14 countries and 21 foreign bank accounts are expected to be worth three billion dollars, Ms Sitharaman said.

On Saturday, Mr Sharief had admitted that homegrown terrorist outfits were responsible for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
On November 26, 2008, ten armed Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists forced their way into Mumbai and carried out coordinated shooting and bombing.

“It’s a serious disclosure. Hasn’t India been following it? Saying that we strongly believe that the handlers of the 26/11 offences were in Pakistan. This only proves India’s stand has been right all through the way,” said the minister.

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