Black money issue: Advani’s letter to Sonia not apology, says Jethmalani

via http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/NAT-TOP-gandhi-family-has-black-money-in-swiss-banks-ram-jethmalani-1871041.html published on February 22, 2011

New Delhi: New Delhi: Veteran lawyer and Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) MP Ram Jethmalani on Monday said that he believed that the Gandhi
family had black money stashed in Swiss bank accounts.

A task
force appointed by the BJP on the black money issue had alleged that
Sonia Gandhi and her husband, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, were
among the Indians who held Swiss bank accounts abroad.

Senior party leader LK Advani later wrote to Sonia Gandhi and regretted the mention of their names in the booklet.

Jethmalani, however, said the letter was in no way an apology.

“He
(Advani) did not apologise, only said that for so many years you (Sonia
Gandhi) did not give a denial and now you have given one,” he said.

“I believe that the Gandhi family has money stashed in Swiss banks,” Jethmalani told reporters outside Parliament.

“Swiss
magazines have written, even Kent books have written…Rahul Gandhi has
been getting money from Swiss Bank. A whole advertisement appeared in
the New York Times where this allegation was repeated,” he said.

Earlier,
senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani had ‘regretted the
distress’ caused to Congress president Sonia Gandhi over his party’s
task force report alleging that she and her husband, former prime
minister Rajiv Gandhi, had money in foreign bank accounts.

In a
letter to the Congress chief written on Wednesday, Advani said: ‘On my
return from Kolkata last night, I found your letter of Feb 15 awaiting
me.’

‘I am happy that you have denied the reports relating to
you and your family alluded to in the task force’s report on black
money. If these had been denied earlier, the task force would have
taken your denial into account. Even so, I deeply regret the distress
caused to you,’ Advani said in the letter, released to the media.

The
BJP-led National Democratic Alliance earlier this month released a
booklet ‘Indian Black Money Abroad in Secret Banks and Tax Havens’,
that contained allegations against Gandhi and her late husband.

Advani
told the media that the report had spoken of smaller countries like the
Philippines, Peru, Nigeria and Tunisia being able to get the Swiss
government to assist them in recovering hundreds of billions of dollars
stashed away by their corrupt leaders. But in India the hawala affair
of Hasan Ali, the Quattrocchi case and the alleged foreign account
maintained in the name of a former prime minister of India belonging to
the Congress party have not been investigated or probe stymied.

BJP
leaders said that Advani’s letter made it clear that Sonia Gandhi had
not denied allegations relating to her family earlier, otherwise they
would not have found a place in the task force report.

‘There
have been reports in foreign media relating to accounts a former prime
minister but the Congress in the past has not made a categorical
rebuttal,’ a BJP leader said.

The leaders said Advani’s letter
and his regret should be seen as an expression of ‘political courtesy’
to another senior leader.

They said while Advani had expressed
regret over distress caused to Sonia Gandhi, the Congress had not made
a similar gesture on the allegations made by it against party president
Nitin Gadkari in relation to the Adarsh Housing Society scam.

The Congress, meanwhile, welcomed Advani’s regret.

‘We
have seen the reports in media and have no concrete information about
it, but if it is true then it is a welcome decision,’ party
spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told reporters.

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