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Chidambaram's foreign assets case Cong's 'Nawaz Sharif moment': Sitharaman

ANI/New Delhi 13 May 18 | 04:24 PM

Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday accused the Congress Party of not taking any action against former finance minister P Chidambaram for allegedly failing to disclose foreign assets.

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Addressing the media, Sitharaman said that the Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who himself is out on bail on a financial matter, should certainly comment and tell people of India if he is going to investigate on Chidambaram's not having disclosed income held abroad.

Calling it the "Nawaz Sharif moment" of the Congress Party, Sitharaman said that the alleged financial discrepancies can't be overlooked by the party.

"For some time now, we have been hearing through the media that a lot of action by the Income Tax (IT) authorities against the former Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, and his family. We want to draw through the media, your attention and also the people of India's attention, to the facts around it and put forth before you, if in India for the Congress party, this is the Nawaz Sharif moment. All of us are aware that in Pakistan due to a non-disclosure of assets held abroad, non-disclosure partly or fully of assets and income earned from abroad, the Pakistan Supreme Court had disqualified Nawaz Sharif and the parallels cannot be missed out in this case," she told reporters in New Delhi.

Sitharaman further alleged Chidambaram of violating black money law, which was brought by Prime Minister Narendra Modi government as part of its drive against black money and to prosecute those Indians who have secretly stashed illicit wealth abroad.

"I am starting by wondering if for the Congress party, in India, we are seeing a Nawaz Sharif moment, wherein a former minister, a senior one at that, who held very important portfolios such as Finance and Home is being investigated upon for not disclosing his foreing assets, partly or fully, held probably in one country or more than one country. Chidambaram didn't disclose his investments to tax authority, violating Black Money Law, which was brought by the Narendra Modi government as part of its drive against black money and to prosecute those Indians who have secretly stashed illicit wealth abroad," she added.

She said the IT department filed four charge sheets in a Chennai city court on May 11, 2018, against Chidambaram's wife Nalini, son Karti and his wife Srinidhi under section 50 of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.

"The present charge sheets are for not disclosing, either partly or fully, immovable assets like the one at Cambridge in the United Kingdom worth Rs. 5.37 crore, property worth Rs. 80 lakh in the same country and assets worth Rs. 3.28 crore in the United States. Apart from the property in Cambridge, Karti Chidambaram's investment of Rs. 3.28 crore and Rs. 80 lakh in Nano Holdings LLC in USA and assets and accounts in Totus Tennis in UK also came under the charges framed by Income Tax under Black Money Act," she said.

Levelling allegations against Chidambaram's family of holding illegal assets, Sitharaman said "Chidambaram family's illegal assets in 14 countries and 21 foreign bank accounts are expected to be worth three billion dollars."

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the allegation, P. Chidambaram said, "You know I don't react. The matter is in the High Court and will be decided there."

On May 11, the Income Tax Department filed prosecution complaints under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 against Karti Chidambaram, his mother, Nalini Chidambaram and wife, Srinidhi Chidambaram.

The prosecution case filed under section 50 of the Black Money Act at a Chennai court, alleged that the trio made investments in foreign assets which were not disclosed fully or partly in their returns.

Further, the IT Department had recently issued notices against Karti and his family members under Section 10(1) of the Black Money Act, which was challenged by him in the Madras High Court.

The court had later dismissed his writ petition.

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