India Intelligence Report

 

 

  Natwar & Son Indicted, Implodes Under Pressure

  Justice Pathak Commission report to the Parliament clearly indicted Former Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and his son Jagat Singh for their role in recommending their family and friends in the oil-for-food scam first disclosed by Paul Volcker.
 

 

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Justice Pathak Commission report to the Parliament clearly indicted Former Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and his son Jagat Singh for their role in recommending their family and friends in the oil-for-food scam first disclosed by Paul Volcker. The Volcker report had reported that Natwar, the Congress Party, and Panthers Party leader Bhim Singh as three “non-contractual beneficiaries” (a euphemism for having taken kickbacks to support the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein).

The Pathak Inquiry Authority said that “the letter of May 9, 2001” by “the Executive Director of Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) to the Oil Minister” referring to “two million barrels of oil” allocated to gave the “to Masefield in favour of Natwar Singh of the Congress party.” Pathkak went on to say that Natwar Singh’s “may have been far more limited” and only as “a facilitator” but the “Iraqi authorities saw no such limitation.” In other words, the Iraqi Government gave out the oil coupons to relative Non-Resident Indian businessman Aditya Khanna and close friend Andaleeb Sehgal only because of the letter of introduction of Natwar Singh.

Natwar & Jagat tried to twist the judgment in their favor claiming that the inquiry showed that they were not the beneficiaries and “that is the crux of the matter.” However, while scrutinizing companies which were allegedly used to route the oil-for-food pay-offs to the beneficiaries, particularly one named Indrus located in Jersey in the Channel Islands, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) located an entire web of offshore companies linked to the Khanna family, from where huge illegal foreign exchange remittances to India have been made. The ED has also alerted the Ministry of Defense (MoD) that there is evidence that these companies were engaged in arms supply, money laundering, and surreptitious dealings that look legitimate. Apparently, the ED is asking the Channel Islands administrators and British Serious Fraud Office for help in tracing ownership details of the companies.

More importantly, it is not known if the protagonists of the scam have exploited the many loopholes in the law to finance Natwar and Jagat. Although the public gain from the scam is only about USD 146,000, it is not clear if there are additional monies from this deal and whether the father-son duo derived hidden sums or benefits. In fact, the ED had impounded a Mercedes Benz from Jagat Singh believing it to have been bought from the proceeds of the scam. Strangely, the car was in the name of Jagat’s friend Chetan Gupta and nothing is known of Gupta’s financial sources, income levels, or any arrangements with Jagat Singh.

The MoD has also issued an advisory that three Khanna brothers and their companies have been involved in selling arms to India and Pakistan and some non-descript “all necessary action be taken to fully safeguard India’s security interest.” One of these brothers, Arvind Khanna, is a Congress Member of Legislative Assembly, has admitted doing business with the MoD and therefore is being charged with violations under the Foreign Exchange Management Act.

Having been spurned on their twisted interpretation of the Pathak conclusion, Natwar and Jagat are now focusing on how the information on the report went public. To raise the pitch and deflect attention, Natwar has raised a privilege motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh charging him with leaking the report. In this sleight of hand, he has the support of many so-called allies of the Government such as the communists and the Samajwadi Party (SP). Natwar is also supported by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). All these parties hold the PM at fault for the leak without even ascertaining whether the leak occurred within the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) or secretariat of the Pathak Inquiry Report. Instead of finding out the source of the leak, framing legislation that makes such leaks serious criminal offense, and creating mechanisms to stop such leaks, they are more focused on embarrassing the PM. SP leader Amar Singh ludicrously asserted that Natwar was dismissed because of pressure from the US due to his opinions on Iran and Iraq. Displaying once again, the lack of reasoning and logic for the benefit of the nation, the political parties are once again engaged in devising ways to embarrass each other and scoring political points at the expense of the nation.

Natwar calls the Pathak report a “political documents” and the leaks to the media “motivated leaks” and says he “hopes to defend” himself in the Parliament. His brazen move against the leadership through the privilege motion and veiled threats of “revealing more” has not endeared him to anyone—inside the Congress Party, with analysts, media, or intellectuals. He is seen as a man out of control trying to take down as many people as he can with him and some papers have openly asked him to resign and retire from political life. Instead, Natwar is now on a rampage trying to mobilize “Jat” support for a political rally. There is widespread speculation that Natwar may be expelled from the Congress party in a forced “divorce” in disgrace and he may join some carpetbaggers to stay afloat politically.

The Pathak Commission seems to have absolved the Congress Party of any wrongdoing and the Government’s Action Taken Report (ATR) says that there is “not a shred of evidence to link the Congress party to the transactions” and that “no wrongdoing can be attributed.” However, the Government seems to be washing its hands off Natwar Singh saying that although there is no evidence to show that he “derived any financial or other personal benefit from the contracts” but cleared with the former Chief Justice headed panel of his role in “influencing and facilitating” the procurement of oil contracts