AAP demands Jaitley’s resignation over ‘Panama Papers’

New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday demanded Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s resignation, saying one of those linked to the ‘Panama Papers’ was the BJP leader’s friend Lokesh Sharma.

Jaitley should also reveal what kind of relations he has with Sharma, AAP leader Ashutosh said here.

He said a free and fair probe into the ‘Panama Papers’ was doubtful as long as Jaitley was in the union cabinet.

“Lokesh Sharma, who owns Twenty First Century Media (TCM), is Jaitley’s friend from college days. In the Panama Papers leaks, it has been revealed that Sharma opened two shell companies in the tax haven of British Virgin Island and was a promoter in the third,” Ashutosh said.

The ‘Panama Papers’, published globally and in India by the Indian Express, give a glimpse into an extensive network of shell companies and secret entities in tax havens globally. According to the Express, more than 500 Indians are involved.

The AAP leader said the government had announced a multi-agency inquiry into the ‘Panama Papers’. “But how will he (Jaitley) investigate charges against his own friend, whom he benefited during his tenure as the DDCA chief?”

Ashutosh said that as the Delhi District and Cricket Association (DDCA) chief, Jaitley in 2002 awarded a contract to build VIP boxes at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium here to Sharma’s company without floating tenders.

“Moreover, this was decided at a meeting held in Jaitley’s office when he was the union commerce minister. Why did the meeting not take place at the DDCA office?”

The AAP leader also attacked Sharma.

“Why did Sharma have to set up his companies in a tax haven? Did he take the Reserve Bank of India’s permission before opening shell companies or did he mention these companies while filing tax returns?”

“Was it his own money or was he a frontman for someone? He must answer these questions,” Ashutosh said.

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