Farmhouse Owned by Rahul and Priyanka Rented by Jignesh Shah’s Firm During UPA Investigation: Report
The Congress-led UPA government was investigating National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL), which is promoted by Jignesh Shah’s Financial Technologies (India) Ltd.
New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi, then Congress vice president, and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra rented their 4.69-acre farmhouse in Delhi to Jignesh Shah-promoted Financial Technologies (India) Ltd in early 2013 when the Congress-led UPA government was investigating National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL), a company promoted by FTIL, for alleged market irregularities.
According to a report in The Indian Express, the rent agreement between FTIL and Rahul and Priyanka is dated February 1, 2013, almost 10 months after NSEL received a show-cause notice for alleged violation of norms. The NSEL scam became public in July 2013 and the agreement was ended in October 2013, two months before the lease would have expired on December 31, 2013.
Both FTIL and the Congress said that this was a routine business transaction.
Responding to a questionnaire from The Indian Express, the Congress said that the UPA at the Centre and the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra had, in fact, taken “decisive civil and criminal action” against FTIL, Shah and other entities associated with him. These included Shah’s arrest.
On November 29, the Enforcement Directorate wrote to FTIL (now called 63 Moons Technologies Ltd) seeking details of its agreement with the Gandhis, the newspaper has confirmed.
Jignesh Shah-promoted FTIL signed an 11-month lease agreement to rent Indira Gandhi Farm House in Mehrauli at a monthly rent of Rs 6.7 lakh.
FTIL also gave an “interest free deposit of Rs 40.20 lakh vide two separate cheques of Rs 20.10 lakh”, respectively to Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. The company wanted to use the farmhouse as a guesthouse for its guests and officers, according to the lease agreement.
The Indian Express sent a questionnaire to 63 Moons Technologies Ltd and the Congress asking about the agreement and its propriety given that Shah was under the UPA’s official scrutiny.
Responding to the questionnaire, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the farm was an ancestral property purchased in the 1960s and for several years, it was rented out.
“In the same process, Indira Gandhi Farm was rented out for 8 months and 22 days i.e. 1 February, 2013 to 22nd October, 2013 to FTIL. The entire rent received from the tenancy was disclosed in the income tax returns and income tax was paid in accordance with the law. During the period of tenancy, one Mrs. & Mr. Khairnar occupied the property,” Surjewala said.
“There was no question of any association or relationship or any intervention having been made by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in any ongoing proceedings either against FTIL or Jignesh Shah or any other person or entity related to them,” the Congress leader added.
He added that “facing imminent defeat in the election going states, overall rejection of PM’s leadership and policies as also complete failure to tackle the all-round distress on various fronts of economy — agriculture — jobs has pushed Modiji to seek to divert people’s attention by running such smear campaigns.” And using the Income Tax Department and the ED as “revenge tools” to execute a “hatchet job”.
The ED communication comes close to the summons issued to Priyanka’s husband Robert Vadra, again in November, in relation to a probe for alleged money laundering in a land deal in Rajasthan. Robert Vadra called it “the government’s plan B every time they find themselves on the backfoot be it Rafale or the prospect of losing Assembly elections”.
During its first term, the UPA government had granted an exemption to NSEL through a notification on June 5, 2007, from complying with the provisions of the Forward Contracts Regulation Act.
Without any regulator overseeing its functioning, NSEL flourished and allowed trading in contracts that were later found to be in alleged violation of conditions under which it was granted the FCRA exemption.
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