Jaitley must recuse from ‘Panama Papers’ probe: Congress

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New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) The Congress on Thursday demanded that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley “recuse” himself from the ‘Panama Papers’ probe to ensure the multi-agency investigation was free and fair.

The opposition party also asked for a Supreme Court-monitored probe.

“We don’t believe in the agencies of Arun Jaitley. The government has set up a multi-agency panel to investigate the matter but an independent probe is not possible. We, therefore, demand he recuse himself from any probe involving the ‘Panama Papers’ leaks,” senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said here.

“How will the government conduct an independent probe in the Panama Papers leaks when the finance minister himself awarded a contract to Twenty First Century Media Private Limited as DDCA president (to construct VIP boxes at Ferozeshah Kotla here),” Ramesh said.

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“Hence, we demand an independent probe which is possible only by a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team,” he added.

Ramesh said that as Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) president, Jaitley had awarded a contract to the company run by Lokesh Sharma, whose name has surfaced in the ‘Panama Papers’.

In a DDCA executive committee meeting in October 2000, when Jaitley was its president, an agreement was signed with the company with regard to in-stadia advertisements during international matches for three years.

The ‘Panama Papers’ have allegedly revealed that Sharma, the company managing director, has two firms registered in the tax haven of British Virgin Islands.

“Jaitley must also clarify the background of Twenty First Century Media Private Limited and why it was awarded the DDCA contract. He must also clarify whether he knew about Lokesh Sharma’s offshore entities,” added Ramesh.

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