Amar Singh in legal trouble over Clinton Foundation donation?

April 26th, 2009 - 12:01 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rana Ajit
New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh could be headed for legal trouble over his reported Rs.43 crore ($8.6 million) donation to the US-based Clinton Foundation.

The Reserve Bank of India has suggested a probe by the Enforcement Directorate to ascertain possible violation of the country’s financial laws in the alleged donation by Singh, for which he apparently did not seek the central bank’s approval.

The RBI suggested the Enforcement Directorate probe while denying any knowledge of the donation.

The RBI suggestion was made in its communication to Supreme Court lawyer Vishwanath Chaturvedi in response to his complaint to the Election Commission.

Singh has neither confirmed nor denied the reported donation.

The complainant had asked the poll panel to disqualify Amar Singh for his failure to disclose to the panel giving the huge donation in his affidavit on his financial assets filed along with his nomination papers for the 2008 election to the Rajya Sabha.

In his complaint, Chaturvedi said he suspects that the remittance had been made through illegal ‘hawala’ channels of transferring money from one country to another. A copy of the complaint had been sent to the RBI.

“Please refer to your complaint lodged with the Chief Election Commissioner, the Election Commission of India, New Delhi, and copy endorsed to us (received on Feb 10, 2009) against Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh,” said the RBI in its reply to Chaturvedi.

“In this connection we advise that as per our records, no remittance was allowed by us. As regards remittance through hawala, you may approach the Directorate of Enforcement,” the RBI said in its reply to Chaturvedi on March 24.

Chaturvedi had filed the complaint with the poll panel, the RBI and other statutory bodies on the basis of a list of donors and contributors to the Clinton Foundation, available on a website of the foundation.

Amar Singh’s name figured in the list among Clinton Foundation donors who contributed a sum between $1 million and $5 million to the foundation.

Chaturvedi pointed out that as per Amar Singh’s affidavit his net assets were worth Rs.37 crore, and he had not disclosed the huge contribution to the Clinton Foundation or the RBI permission.

In his complaint, Chaturvedi also said that till 1994 Amar Singh belonged to the “economically weaker section” as he had applied for and was granted a plot reserved for the poor by the Lucknow Development Authority. To back his assertion, Chaturvedi quoted a report by the Uttar Pradesh Urban Development Department’s Principal Secretary, R.S. Lakha, who had probed the irregular allotment of residential plots to those close to then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Pointing out the phenomenal growth in Amar Singh’s wealth in subsequent years to the tune of Rs.37 crores, as evident from his affidavit, Chaturvedi alleged that the Samajwadi Party official had been indulging in hawala transaction of funds. He also wondered how Singh could contribute Rs.43 crore to the Clinton Foundation when his declared assets were only Rs.37 crore, suggesting his source of funds could be illegal.

In response to Chaturvedi’s complaint, the Election Commission asked him to broach the issue with the returning officer in the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly before whom Singh had filed his nomination papers.

But the state assembly told Chaturvedi that a returning officer is appointed only for the duration of the election period and so it would not be advisable to check the issue with him.

Now, the RBI’s reply to Chaturvedi’s complaint has revived the controversy, spelling legal trouble for Amar Singh.

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