Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Smriti Irani on Thursday alleged that former Union minister Kapil Sibal had engaged in business with an alleged money launderer, investigated by CBI during the UPA rule.
Quoting media reports published by a South African news website Daily Maverick and an Indian news portal Op India, the Union minister alleged that Sibal and his wife were co-owners of a company called Grand Castilo, which was a subsidiary of World Window Group, owned by a Piyoosh Goyal, who was under CBI lens for bribery charges.
Irani said that media reports published on the matter show that Piyoosh Goyal was found embroiled in several money laundering cases and audit reports prove that Sibal had been a Director in one of Goyal's companies, a charge the Congress leader denied while speaking to the South African media. He, however, remained unapproachable for the Indian news site, Irani said at a press conference in New Delhi.
Reacting to the allegations, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said that he did but the company, but did so with his own money. "Yes, I bought the company, does anyone mind? I paid and did so from my earnings, tax for which was paid by me, but no one saw it," Sibal told media shortly after Irani's press conference.
Smriti Irani described the alleged connection between Congress Kapil Sibal and businessman Piyoosh Goyal at the press conference.
"According to a news published in PTI, in November 2013, CBI was conducting investigation against an SBI employee for irregularities in loan disbursements. The person was World Window Group chairperson Piyoosh Goyal," Irani said, adding that Congress leader Kapil Sibal was Union Law Minister between May, 2013 and May 2014.
"An online news site of South Africa, Daily Maverick, and a non-profit investigation firm amaBhungane, have mentioned the same Piyoosh Goyal in their story, mentioning that he has been found guilty of money laundering cases," she added.
The minister said that an Indian news daily has also published a story on the basis of investigation conducted by the South African media houses, which says that while UPA government was investigating Goyal for bribery, Sibal and his wife bought a company called Grand Castilo from him.
Quoting the article published in Op India, Smriti Irani added that Grand Castillo had no business in Financial year 2013-14 but purchased a piece of land, which eventually cost it Rs 45.21 crores. Once this land was registered in FY 2014-15, it was revalued on the basis the market prices hiking its value to Rs 89 crores, Irani quoted the article.
"In next the financial year, the company changed its accounting policy, switching it from market value to historical cost method. And next year, Sibal and his wife gain ownership rights in the company," the minister said in her press conference quoting Indian media article.
Next the BJP leader quoted the South African report, wherein the journalists had questioned Sibal on his stake in World Window subsidiary Grand Castilo. Sibal denied all allegations levied by South African journalists, saying that he has never been director of any subsidiary in any company, she added.
"While people might say that Mr Sibal has a right to buy and engaged with so-called alleged money launderer, the question I pose is - is it politically acceptable to Sri Rahul Gandhi," Irani asked.
Watch video: BJP leader Smriti Irani press conference on 'Sibal Gate'