The Congress and the BJP engaged in a war of words over Rana Kapoor's allegations, with the Opposition party calling it "political vendetta" and the ruling party accusing the Gandhi family of being "extortionists".

Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor being taken to a court in March 2020 after being arrested by ED: Gandhis forced me to buy painting, assured Padma Bhushan, says Yes Bank’s Rana Kapoor to EDYes Bank founder Rana Kapoor being taken to a court in March 2020 after being arrested by ED
news Controversy Monday, April 25, 2022 - 09:17

Yes Bank co-founder Rana Kapoor has told the Enforcement Directorate that he was "forced" to buy an MF Husain painting for Rs 2 crore from Congress' Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the sale proceeds were utilised by the Gandhi family for the medical treatment of Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New York, as per the chargesheet filed by the federal anti-money laundering agency in a special court in Mumbai.

Kapoor also told the ED that he was told by the then Petroleum Minister Murli Deora that the refusal to buy the MF Husain painting will not only prevent him from building a relationship with the Gandhi family but also prevent him from getting the Padma Bhushan award.

The statements of Rana Kapoor are part of the second supplementary chargesheet (overall third) filed in the special court in Mumbai recently against the Yes Bank co-founder, his family, Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL) promoters Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan, and others in a money laundering case.

The Congress and the BJP engaged in a war of words on Sunday over Rana Kapoor's allegations, with the Opposition party calling it "political vendetta" and the ruling party accusing the Gandhi family of being "extortionists". 

Asked about the allegations at a press conference, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "This is absolutely astonishing. I don't want to use a strong word, it is absolutely disgusting that a 2010 transaction, a person who is behind bars for years, whose 20-30 bail applications have been rejected, who is called a crook and a fraudster, makes allegations about dead people and the government is jumping with joy only because it suits their political angle."

The government wants to keep the pot boiling for 2022, for a transaction in 2010 when neither Murli Deora nor Ahmed Patel is here to deny it, Singhvi said. "What is the objective of this, is it the result of your (government) pressure tactics and coercion on a person behind bars eager to get his freedom to record statements against political opponents and to keep a 12-year-old thing boiling just for the convenience of politics," the Rajya Sabha MP said, hitting out at the government.

The BJP alleged that the Congress and the Gandhis are "extortionists" and were also selling the Padma Bhushan. Referring to the Congress election symbol of 'hand', BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said, "The Congress hand is with corruption...while common people were suffering, the Congress and the Gandhi family were enjoying.”

Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters here, Bhatia said that "...when the Congress was in power, members of the Gandhi family used to put pressure on party leaders to ensure the painting is bought". "Priyanka Gandhi put pressure to ensure that the painting worth Rs 2 crore is bought by Kapoor," he said.

BJP's IT Cell head Amit Malviya said it is clear from Kapoor's confession to the ED that the "Gandhis and Congress are not just extortionists but were also selling the country's highest civilian honour to the highest bidder or durbaris, who did their bidding. It was an instrument to buy loyalty or silence".

Bhatia claimed that Kapoor did not want to give Rs 2 crore for the painting, but the ministers of the Congress government put pressure on him that if he does not buy the painting from Priyanka Gandhi, then the Gandhi family will wreak havoc on him.

In his response to the allegations, Singhvi cited that in March 2014, the Yes Bank loan book stood at Rs 55,000 crore and in March 2019, it had increased nearly five times to Rs 2.41 lakh crore. "The loan book of Yes Bank also showed a very dramatic increase between two other dates which are very inconvenient for the Modi government about which neither the government nor the prime minister talk about anymore. In March 2016, it was Rs 98,000 crore and in March 2018, it became 2.03 lakh crore, about more than double. Remember when demonetisation happened, November 2016," he said.

Singhvi also pointed out that the BJP-led Haryana government invested Rs 2,500 crore as government money into accounts of a "sinking" Yes Bank. "They are trying to create a fear psychosis to scare people to do political vendetta, they should know better than that. At least spare the dead. At least don't defame people like Deora and Ahmed Patel," he said. "We all know the credibility of the ED and more than that the credibility of the person accused in this case who is supposed to have made this statement," he added.

Rana Kapoor is currently in judicial custody following his arrest in the case in March 2020. The Wadhwans too are in jail custody after their arrest in another case.

Stating that he had paid a cheque of Rs 2 crore, Rana Kapoor claimed that Milind Deora (son of the late Murli Deora and former Congress MP) later conveyed to him confidentially that the sale proceeds were utilised by the Gandhi family for the medical treatment of Sonia Gandhi in New York. Kapoor also told the ED that Ahmed Patel, a close confidante of Sonia Gandhi, had told him that by supporting the Gandhi family at an opportune time for medical treatment of Sonia Gandhi, he (Kapoor) had performed a good deed for the family and it would be duly considered for the 'Padma Bhushan' award.

The late Murli Deora had told Kapoor at dinner that the failure to purchase the painting could have “adverse repercussions” on him and Yes Bank, Kapoor has claimed in his statement to the ED. The banker is currently in judicial custody following his arrest in the case in March 2020. "First of all I wish to state that it was a forced sale for which I was never ready", the chargesheet said about the painting Kapoor allegedly purchased from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Milind Deora had made several visits to his (Rana Kapoor's) house and office to persuade him for purchasing an MF Husain painting from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Kapoor said. "He had even made me several calls and messages also in this regard from multiple mobile numbers. In fact, I was very much reluctant to go for this deal and I had tried also to avoid this deal several times by ignoring his calls/messages and personal meetings," Kapoor told the ED, as per the chargesheet.

"Despite my best efforts to avoid this deal they were exceptionally persistent to finalise the deal rapidly," Kapoor claimed. He further stated that later, in the year 2010, Murli Deora forced him to meet him for a vegetarian dinner (Marwari dinner) at his Lodhi Estate Bungalow in New Delhi. He was Petroleum Minister at that time and had been allotted this bungalow in that capacity, Kapoor said, as per the chargesheet.

"During the meeting, the late Murli Deora told me in no uncertain terms that any further delay in purchasing the above-said painting could have adverse repercussions on me and my Yes Bank and it could jeopardise my relationship with the Deora family," Kapoor said. "Simultaneously, he had tried to convince me that it will also not permit me ever to build me a relationship with the Gandhi family," the banker added.

Further, in the statement, Kapoor claimed, "He (Murli Deora) had also told me that any deviation on my part for the lack of closure of the deal will definitely prevent me from getting awarded the 'Padma Bhushan' for which, according to him, I was highly deserving at that time".

"Under this threat and against my family's wishes, since we are not high-value Art Collectors, I could not afford to invite any form of enmity with the two powerful families involved and thus I had to hesitatingly proceed given the looming and overhanging threat involved," Kapoor told ED, as per the chargesheet. Kapoor told the ED that formalities for closing the deal were held at Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's office.

"Milind Deora had actively coordinated this final closing meeting. I wish to state that for this deal, I had made a payment of Rs 2 crore through a cheque of my personal account in HSBC Bank," he added. Kapoor said a few weeks after the deal, Milind Deora conveyed to him confidentially that the sale proceeds were utilized by the Gandhi family for the medical treatment of Sonia Gandhi in New York.

"After a few months, while I (Kapoor) was visiting the residence of (late) Ahmed Patel, a close confidante of Sonia Gandhi, I was informed independently by him that by supporting the Gandhi family at an opportune time for medical treatment of Sonia Gandhi I had performed a good deed for the family and it would be duly considered for the 'Padma Bhushan' to me," the chargesheet said.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged that Rana Kapoor and Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL) promoters Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan had siphoned off funds worth Rs 5,050 crore through suspicious transactions. The ED had started its investigation after recording ECIR on March 3, 2020, and after the probe began, Rana Kapoor aggressively tried to dispose of his overseas properties to save them from being attached by the ED under PMLA, the charge sheet said.

The POC involved in this case is Rs 5,050 crore. While Rana Kapoor is the founder of the said company namely DUVPL, his three daughters are 100% shareholders therein. 

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