‘Under fire’ govt. highlights Quattrocchi episode to silence Congress

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New Delhi, Mar. 10 (ANI): Hitting back at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his criticism of the government over liquor baron Vijay Mallya fleeing the country, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday reminded the former of Bofors scandal accused Ottavio Quattrocchi, who escaped from India in 1993 during the grand old party’s regime.

Jaitley said that Mallya had already left the nation by the time banks approached the Supreme Court over the money they owe to the liquor baron.

“There is a legal process to stop any person (from leaving the country). Either your passport should be impounded or there should be a court order. The immigration cannot stop you besides these. The banks went to the Supreme Court, but he (Mallya) probably anticipating the same left the country,” Jaitley told the media here.

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Recalling the Bofors scandal and the role of Quattrocchi, Jaitley said that the former was allowed to leave the country during the Congress regime despite a CBI request to impound his passport.

“Rahul ji should know that there was difference in Mallya leaving the country and Quattrocchi leaving. When the Swiss authorities informed that Quattrocchi is one of the Bofors beneficiaries and CBI wrote to the government asking them to impound his (Quattrocchi) passport, the then government did not stop him and he left. That was a criminal case. In this case, the banks had not started the procedure when he (Mallya) left. So, the banks should have started it earlier,” he said.

Gandhi earlier in the day lashed out at Jaitley for not telling the Parliament as to how Mallya managed to flee the country and questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to bring back black money stashed in safe havens abroad.

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Gandhi said that the Finance Minister spoke at length over this issue in Parliament, but failed to answer the basic question as to how Mallya left the country.

Reacting to this, Jaitley took a jibe at Gandhi, urging the media to explain his address made in Parliament to the Congress vice-president.

“I have given dates in the Parliament that loans were sanctioned in 2004 and 2007, then in 2009 it became NPA and thereafter it was restructured in 2010. If Rahul Gandhi does not understand these dates then you people should help him understand,” he said.

The Parliament today witnessed a major uproar following Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s statement that Mallya left the country on March 2 and could be in the UK.

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The Supreme Court has issued a notice to Mallya on a plea filed by a consortium of 13 PSU banks headed by the State Bank of India. The lenders had moved the apex court to prevent Mallya from leaving the country and impounding his passport even as the loan recovery procedure for Kingfisher Airlines is still on.

The notice will be served through the Indian High Commission in London. Based on CBI inputs, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the banks, informed the Supreme Court that Mallya left India on March 2 and could be in the UK.

The apex court has sought Mallya’s response to the banks’ plea by March 30, which is the next date of hearing. (ANI)

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