A report by CNN-News 18 has revealed that former finance minister P Chidambaram signed an order in a great hurry that allowed certain specific companies to import gold. In the report, the news channel has revealed the RBI circular that allowed 13 companies to import gold under the 80-20 scheme included Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems.
#BREAKING P Chidambaram signed order a week before leaving office. FinMin allowed 13 Pvt business to import gold. @Ashish_Mehrishi with exclusive details. #Epicentre with @maryashakil #NiravDaresIndia #NiravScamKingpin pic.twitter.com/PriCNZlmDZ
— News18 (@CNNnews18) February 22, 2018
The RBI circular was dated May 21, 2014. It also added that the order to let the companies import gold was signed by the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram on 16th May 2014. On the day that the general election results were announced and UPA had lost power.
The report went on to reveal that 50% of the entire benefit was cornered by 7 companies and Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems was again one of them. Gitanjali Gems is believed to have imported 400 kg of gold under the scheme after the order. Mehul Choksi is one of the accused in the 11,000 crores PNB Bank fraud and is currently absconding.
A CAG Report on gold imports during the period shows that the import of gold actually surged under the 20-80 scheme. The 20-80 scheme was launched in 2013 by the then UPA government to impose restrictions on gold import. It was expected to deal with the current account deficit of gold. Interestingly Mehul Choksi had welcomed the 20-80 scheme at that time before media and said that it will help jewellers. The scheme mandated that at least 20% of the gold imported from abroad was to be made available to the exporters.
Chidambaram had signed the controversial circular barely a week before he had to vacate his office. This has raised several questions on the links of the UPA government with Mehul Choksi and his company.
Economist and MP Subramanian Swami has tweeted about the news:
So CNN News 18 reveals PC-R3 fraud on gold imports by both signing an order after 2014 election result and before oath to favour Choksi & co
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) February 22, 2018
It is notable here that the Narendra Modi led NDA government had scrapped the 80-20 scheme in late November in 2014. At that time the Raghuram Rajan governed RBI had distanced itself from the scrapping order of the scheme and had stated that it is merely issuing the order and the decision has been taken by the government.