ED officials have stated that the sale of the MF Hussain painting to Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor by Congress princess Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is being treated as ‘proceeds of crime’, as per a report in The Indian Express. The painting was sold by Priyanka to Rana Kapoor for a sum of Rs 2 crores.
Indian Express has also cited ED officials as saying that Priyanka could be summoned for questioning over the sale of the MF Hussain painting of her father the former PM Rajiv Gandhi to the Yes Bank founder after the current summons of major debtors and industrialists are over.
“The Rs 2 crore paid by Rana Kapoor to Priyanka Gandhi was received by him from the bank shortly before he gave it to her and thus becomes part of our investigation into the case. Both the buyer and the seller could attract action under Section 3 of the PMLA Act,” a senior official has been quoted in the IE report.
Section 3 of the PMLA says “whosoever directly or indirectly was connected with the proceeds of crime has projected it as untainted property shall be guilty of the offence of money laundering.”
The Income Tax department was already probing the Rs 2 crores withdrawn by Rana Kapoor and paid to Priyanka by cheque in 2010. When ED raided Kapoor in March and found the painting, it came to the light that the money was paid for the painting.
When ED had questioned Kapoor how he acquired the painting, he had presented the exchanged messages between him and Congress leader Milind Deora, also the letter of acknowledgement and a copy of the Rs 2 crore cheque signed by Kapoor.
However, KTS Tulsi, Congress leader and Gandhi family lawyer has stated that the ED cannot club the painting as ‘proceeds of crime’. Tulsi added that the sale of the painting was purely a private commercial transaction and the Congress party has already stated that it was shown in the Income Tax declaration by Priyanka Gandhi.
Kapoor was arrested earlier this month. 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.