It has been 28 days since the Nirav Modi-Mehul Choksi bank fraud hit the banking system of the country. As is the norm with the current government, neither the Prime Minister nor his Finance Minister – whose ministry is the nodal ministry overseeing banking and finance in the country – has spoken out about the scam. Mr. Jaitley did put out a non-statement blaming banking staff, regulators, etc., but that was more politics than governance, to be fair.
During these 28 days, we have often reminded the government of the ticking clock that is recording their silence, but our reminders have clearly fallen on deaf ears. We have wondered why. Now we know. As per an article published in The Wire, Arun Jaitley’s daughter’s firm, Jaitley, and Bakshi was engaged by Geetanjali Gems Ltd (Choksi’s firm) in December 2017 on a retainership contract. When the news of PNB scam was broken by the media, the firm panicked, and swiftly annulled the contract, and even returned the money the next month. Choksi fled the country barely weeks after signing the contract.
With this new information surfacing, it is now worth asking if the FM’s silence on the PNB scam is indeed strategic. Is he trying to protect his daughter? It is also worth noting that other law firms that the Choksi’s worked with were paid a timely visit by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), while Jaitley and Bakshi were spared the ignominy. Perks of being the Finance Minister’s daughter?
This only goes on to show how strong is the connection between the rich and famous and the topmost politicians of the country. They practically worked together, before the scam surfaced. It is a telling realization when one considers that, had the scam not been unveiled, the firm would have continued to serve Choksi-owned firm, probably even represented it in legal forums. This gives the notion that all is kosher in the elite circles of politicians and big business, till the time any wrongdoing is exposed. What is deeply disturbing is how it may be years before a scam or fraud of the scale of the PNB fraud is discovered. By the time things come to light, the businessmen will most probably have fled the country. The firms that enable their loot and plunder hide behind the fig leaf of an excuse of ignorance.
After these facts have come to light, our hopes of getting a response from Mr. Jaitley on the PNB fraud have diminished sizeably. Mr. Jaitley has lost enough face and taking questions from the media, and addressing them, is something he will most likely avoid for the foreseeable future. The report uncovered how things get done in the upper echelons of the power circles the likes of the Mr. Modi and Mr. Jaitley like to hobnob with. The operative phrase is: It’s all kosher till someone gets caught red-handed.