Amid controversy over alleged corruption in Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha today said investigators have the ability to find the money trail and the government will pursue the matter for citizens’ benefit.
“These are investigations that our agencies are undertaking and they are very capable,” Sinha said in response to a question on how confident the government is in proving the money trail to Sonia Gandhi or if it is just a political aggression.
“They (investigative agencies) have the ability to be able to track down and find out what the money trail is. Of course, we will pursue the matter for the benefit of citizens of the country, wherever the investigation, wherever the evidence may take us,” he said on the sidelines of the Enforcement Directorate Day here.
The ruling BJP has been making allegations of involvement of top leaders of the Congress in the chopper deal.
The VVIP chopper deal relates to a 2010 decision of the the UPA government to buy 12 helicopters from Italian manufacturer, Finmeccanica, a unit of AgustaWestland.
CBI, in 2013, had registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister.
With regard to the Rs 9,000-crore loan default case involving Vijay Mallya, Sinha said these are commercial matters and banks are pursuing these cases.
“It is obviously for them as well as as investigative agencies that are pursuing cases against Mallya. We have a very robust as well as a very independent process both on the commercial side as well as on the investigative side,” he said.
Asked if Mallya would be deported to India for prosecution, Sinha replied, “These are government to government matters that have to resolved taking into account laws of both the countries. We have made filing with respect to Mallya and we have to proceed as per the law.”
Earlier this week, India asked the UK to deport Mallya, whose Kingfisher Airlines has been accused of loan default, citing the revocation of his passport and a non-bailable warrant against him.
Sinha stressed on the need for sharing of intelligence among various agencies and use of big data analytics for efficient investigation.
“The one area that I think we need to do in the directorate and across other government investigative agencies is in big data analytics, particularly in being able to access data across different government investigative agencies,” he said in his address at the Enforcement Day event.
“For example, if you look at data that is maintained by RBI as part of the Fema and all of the foreign exchange that they track, that data are not correlated against the data that the Customs has in terms of transactions of bills of entry of goods leaving and coming into the country,” he said.
If the different data are harnessed and shared among various agencies, the investigations would be more efficient, he added.
“We will also be able to pre-emptively identify a pattern through big data analytics on what kinds of mechanism and schemes are being utilised to use foreign exchange or illegal activity or take advantage of drawback duty incentives,” Sinha said.
“… In BoB foreign exchange scandal, lots of transactions were not correlated between the bills of entry and the actual transmission of foreign exchange outside the country”, added Sinha.