NEW DELHI: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday alleged that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was silent on the Rs 12,600 crore PNB fraud case to "protect his lawyer daughter" and asked why her firm was not "raided".
"It's now revealed that our Finance Minister's silence on the PNB (Punjab National Bank) scam was to protect his lawyer daughter, who was paid a large retainer by the accused just a month before the scam became public. When other law firms of the accused have been raided by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), why not hers?" Gandhi said in a tweet.
The Congress President also attached a tweet of the news website "The Wire" reading "You know you're doing something right when the ruling dispensation tries to rebut a story that has not even been published yet".
The Wire said on its site that it was investigating a lead and had sent a questionnaire to the law firm owned by Jaitley's daughter and son-in-law, Jaiyesh Bakhshi. In his reply, Bakhshi confirmed that the retainership had beeb received in December 2017 but this was returned in January 2018.
"We state that in December 2017, Chambers of Jaitley & Bakhshi were approached by M/s Geetanjali Gems Limited with a request for a retainer to represent them in their litigation and advisory matters...However, before any legal work could be sent to us, a news item appeared in the media with regard to their involvement in a banking scam. We, therefore, felt it appropriate to unilaterally cancel their engagement and return their retainer," Bakhshi told The Wire.
The Wire, according to its Founder-Editor M.K. Venu, did not find the story worth publishing. But, he said a "BJP-leaning website," wrote about this claiming The Wire was planning to do such a story to "ensnare" Jaitley.
Gandhi in his tweet about "other law firms" was referring to the searches carried out by the CBI at the Mumbai offices of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas -- a leading law firm which was reportedly hired by the key accused Nirav Modi around a month before the scam broke in mid-February.
The CBI examined the documents provided by the firm pertaining to the diamond jeweller Nirav Modi-related mandate, which the company later reportedly terminated after the scam erupted on February 14.
Nirav Modi, along with his uncle Mehul Choksi of the Gitanjali Group, has been accused of defrauding the PNB of Rs 12,600 crore.
The CBI had filed the first FIR in the scam on February 14 against Nirav Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal, Choksi and his firms Diamond R US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamond.
Modi, his family and Choksi had left the country in early January.
Till date, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has carried out searches at over 198 locations across the country and seized properties worth nearly Rs 6,000 crore, while the CBI has arrested at least 19 persons in the case so far.