Sonia Gandhi today told NDTV that “there is no truth” to the allegations that her son, Rahul Gandhi, is linked to the AgustaWestland defence scam through shops that he owned at a Delhi mall owned by real estate developer Emaar-MGF. “There was no quid pro quo,” she told NDTV.
The Agusta scandal – which saw the firm bribing Indians to get a Rs. 3,600-crore deal to supply helicopters to the Air Force – has signed the Gandhis and their party, the Congress, after an Italian court convicted top executives of the defence manufacturer for paying kickbacks. Documents used by the court mention Mrs Gandhi and her colleagues.
BJP lawmaker Kirit Somaiya says it’s not just Mrs Gandhi, who is Congress chief, but the “entire Gandhi parivaar” that must come clean on its close links to middlemen who acted on behalf of Agusta.
Mr Somiaya points out that Mr Gandhi bought shops in a South Delhi mall in 2005; the mall is owned by Emaar-MGF, a firm founded by relatives of Mr Gandhi’s close aide, Kanishka Singh; and that in 2009, Emaar appointed Guido Haschke a director on its board. Connecting the dots to prove Mr Gandhi’s illicit role isn’t a stretch, he said today: “Rahul Gandhi has admitted that he has bought shops. I would like him to disclose that at what price you bought them.” He also alleged that Mr Gandhi sold the shops back to the real estate developer.
Mr Gandhi’s office says that when he acquired the shops, he declared them as required to officials, and sold them in 2010 which is why they are not listed among his assets in recent papers.
Mr Haschke has struck a plea bargain with Italian prosecutors, and his tapped phone conversations and notes were key to the investigation.
Emaar has said Mr Haschke was a director for two months and attended no board meetings. Mr Gandhi’s aide, Mr Singh, says he is estranged from the relatives that run Emaar.
But Mr Somaiya says that Emaar was also accused of corruption in the Commonwealth Games scam of 2010, for allegedly paying bribes to build the apartments where the athletes from different countries stayed in Delhi.