At the time when Congress was trying to corner the ruling BJP for the Yes Bank crisis, it has itself landed into an unsavoury controversy over the sale of a painting by its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to former Yes Bank chief Rana Kapoor, which was given by acclaimed painter MF Hussian to the then Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi during the centenary celebration of Congress in 1985.
According to a report by Times of India, the Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating the case, based on the statements recorded by Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor, might summon Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for questioning and is also likely to attach her cottage near Shimla.
As per officials known to the case, senior Congress leader Milind Deora is also likely to be quizzed in connection with the murky transaction which he allegedly coerced Yes Bank chief Rana Kapoor into.
In his statement recorded at the ED office in Mumbai on Sunday, Rana Kapoor claimed that Congress’s former South Mumbai MP Milind Deora pressured him to buy a portrait of ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi from Priyanka for Rs 2 crores.
Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the money taken from Kapoor, an accused, which Priyanka spent on her cottage near Shimla, qualifies to be treated as “proceeds of crime”, and this renders the property vulnerable to the prospect of being attached by ED.
ED sources cited text messages recovered from Kapoor’s mobile phone and his statement to claim that the tainted banker, Rana Kapoor who had siphoned off Rs 4,000 crore from Yes Bank, may not have bought the painting on his own will. He was actually forced by Milind Deora, whom Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had authorised to negotiate the deal on her behalf.
Sources have revealed that a letter dated 1st May 2010 has emerged written by senior Congress leader Milind Deora, the then Member of Parliament, to Yes Bank chief Rana Kapoor, suggesting he buys the Rajiv Gandhi painting in Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s possession.
In the letter, he mentions that the painting which Kapoor is desirous of purchasing and for the same he should get in touch with Priyanka Gandhi as she and her family members would be willing to sell the painting ‘if buyer will keep it safely with the respect it deserves’.
Following this, on 8th May, Deora again wrote to Kapoor urgently seeking time to speak to him. A copy of his email is with OpIndia. This is followed by a series of text messages sent between 8th May 2010 to 12th May 2010, Deora kept following up with Kapoor. The senior Congress leader allegedly kept hounding Kapoor to strike the deal.
Finally, the deal was struck. On 4th June 2010, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wrote a letter to Rana Kapoor, at Bungalow No 1, Grand Paradi address in Mumbai. (Note, it is home address from 2010, not addressed to Yes Bank CEO) wherein she mentions she is selling the M F Hussain painting of her father gifted to him by the painter in 1985 on the centenary celebrations of the Congress.
The BJP on Tuesday attacked Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for her alleged role in the controversy. Addressing a press conference at the BJP office, party spokesperson Sambit Patra said wherever there is corruption, there has to be the Congress party.
“What MF Hussain was to the world of painting, the Congress is to the corruption. If corruption is an art, Congress is its artist,” said Patra.
Patra said the BJP demands the entire episode involving the sale of the painting by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should be investigated as “she got money from Kapoor’s account which had the money from criminal proceeds.
Following the revelation, Gandhi is now accused of expropriating a souvenir granted to the Congress party and accruing financial dividends from unilaterally presiding over the sale of the artwork officially belonging to the Congress party. It is still unclear under what capacity did Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sell this painting to Rana Kapoor.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor under money laundering charges in the wee hours of Sunday. The banker was held under the provision of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) around 3 AM after he did not cooperate with the officials.
Rana was questioned by the ED sleuths for over 30 hours after the central agency raided his residence on Friday night. He will be produced before a local court during the day to obtain custody, the officials said.
Yes Bank is in the midst of a crisis as it accumulated a torrent of bad loans in 2018 by lending to corporate defaulters such as DHFL, Jet Airways and Cafe Coffee day and others. The bank was put on a moratorium by RBI for a period of 30 days, capping its withdrawals at Rs 50,000. The Reserve Bank of India has also announced ‘Yes Bank Ltd. Reconstruction Scheme, 2020’, changing the authorised capital to Rs 5000 crores and 2400 crore equity shares standing at Rs 10 each. In addition, SBI which leads the consortium of banks investing in the ‘reconstructed bank’ will not reduce its holding below 26% before the completion of three years.