Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur has launched an attack on Congress over a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) report, which alleged that a former CEO of an Indian bank, bought over-valued artwork from a “close relative” of a member of the party as a 'bribe' for national awards. The CEO in reference was Rana Kapoor, even though the report did not mention his name.
"One after another, new models of Congress's corruption are coming to the fore. Sometimes it is National Herald, sometimes Vadra land scam, sometimes some another. Now FATF has published a case study that how a former Union Minister in the UPA government pressurised an individual in buying Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's average painting in Rs 2 crore," he said.
In its latest report, the FATF, the global intergovernmental watchdog on money laundering and terror financing, cites the case of a leading Indian banker who bought artwork of no value to pay kickbacks.
FATF, in its report titled 'Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in the Art and Antiquities Market', spoke of a “Mr A” who was the managing director and CEO of an Indian bank and misused his position during his tenure by sanctioning loans of $628 million to business entities incurring losses or with negative credit, and thereby violating norms.
The report has a reference to money laundering through paintings, which revealed that Mr A, in order to pay kickbacks for awards, bought “mediocre art” from politicians and paid them through banking channels, projecting them as genuine pieces of art. “In one such incident, Mr. A purchased a piece of art from the close relative of a member of the ruling political party at that time for USD 264,000," it said.
Reacting sharply to the FATF report, Thakur said that FATF was earlier talked about in the context of Pakistan’s continuance on its “grey list" for terror financing but now, the global watchdog is being discussed in the context of an influential family in India.
"It is a matter of great shame that the story of corruption of the Gandhi family is made into a case study and being told to the whole world, that too by an organisation that works to stop terror financing," the Minister added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said Priyanka Gandhi should come clean on the identity of "Mr A" referred to in the FATF report.
"Was Padma Bhushan being given in exchange of money & painting? Is this a corruption model of Congress? How many other national honors have you sold for money?," Thakur stated.
It must be noted that Kapoor was arrested and an investigation is undergoing in connection with a Rs 466 crore money laundering case.
The ED had earlier mentioned in its chargesheet that Kapoor had revealed that he was forced to buy an MF Hussain painting from Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
In a statement, Kapoor said that he paid Rs 2 crore for the painting, and was later informed by Milind Deora that the proceeds went in the medical treatment of Sonia Gandhi. Deora told him that he would be seriously considered for the Padma Bhushan and some non-political banking and finance assignments, claimed Kapoor, who also said that these commitments were never honoured.
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