Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said his party should not be held responsible for failing to verify four 'dubious' companies who donated two crores, even as the BJP called it a 'prima facie' case of money laundering.
"Does hawala money move through cheques? Would we have posted the details of these donations on our website if we were guilty of wrongdoing?" Kejriwal told NDTV.
"We will return the money if a court orders this," he said.
Kejriwal's denial comes after a breakaway group of the party, AAP Volunteer Action Manch (AVAM), alleged AAP accepted donations worth Rs. 50 lakh each on April 5, 2014 at 12am from four companies that do not have the bank balance to donate this kind of money. They also claimed that the addresses of the companies were fake.
Union finance minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley said the facts relating to the very dubious funding of the AAP are self-evident.
Jaitley slammed the AAP saying it tries to wear its slogan of honesty on its sleeves and disillusioned members display an entirely different picture.
"It is some disillusioned members of the party who have brought these facts into public domain. What do the facts indicate? Whether the party has disclosed the name of the companies from whom they have received funds, they analyse what these companies are," Jaitley told ANI.
"These companies are not doing any business. These companies have directors who obviously do not have any funding sources. The companies have no profit and therefore, the companies are in no position from its own income to make a donation," he added.
In a press conference again on Tuesday, AVAM members denied that they were propped by the BJP to make these allegations on election eve.
"We got the evidence only on January 23 and decided to go public after the AAP insulted us," it said.
It questioned Yogendra Yadav's claims that he will check every transaction and asked why weren't these four transactions verified.
"AAP doesn't believe in freedom of expression, it surely doesn't want give freedom of speech to its volunteers," it added.
Finance Minister Jaitley also questioned the details of the companies that allegedly have funded Kejriwal-led party.
"The elementary question is when somebody gives you money by cheque, even to a political party, who is the controlling interest behind that company, the party is supposed to know this," he said.
"It is obvious that these companies have been used as pass through entities. It is quite common that black money is transacted either through hawala means or through companies which convert that money and gives entry in white money to others. It is that conversion racket which seems to be prima facie apparent in this case," he added.
Jaitley said, "Are the recipients in the political party aware of the identity of the people who have given this money? Are they aware of the business they are transacting".
Jaitley further explained the company rules and said, "Under company law, a company can only give a maximum of seven and a half percent of its average profit of the last three years. Have these companies got a profit in the last three years that they have given seven and a half percent of their profit to a political party."
'BJP dirty tricks dept'
The Congress suspected the role of the BJP behind the allegations by the breakaway group of AAP volunteers and asked the Kejriwal-led party to come clean.
"I won't be surprised if this has been done by BJP Dirty Tricks Department to embarrass AAP. Would Jaitley take action against Donors?" Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said in a tweet.
Stating that he was not a "great admirer" of Kejriwal, the senior Congress leader, however, said that the AAP leader is "right when he challenges BJP to take action against those who have given Rs. 2 crore by cheque".
"The AAP rather than trying to deflect the matter must come clean and tell the people of Delhi whose money is it and where did it come from," Congress leader Manish Tewari told ANI.
Another Congress leader PC Chacko said there was no need for the AAP to file any complaint against others and that it should come clean first.
Earlier in the day, the AAP had said it will ask the leadership of BJP and Congress to agree for a probe by a Supreme Court-monitored special investigation team (SIT) probe into the funding of all the three major parties during the Delhi assembly elections.
The party said it will write to Congress president Sonia Gandhi as well BJP chief Amit Shah seeking their consent for the investigation, to bring transparency in the funding of political parties.
"The AAP will write letters to BJP and Congress presidents requesting to cooperate in SIT probe about their fundings for clean politics," senior AAP leader Ashutosh said in a tweet.
The party, however, backtracked on its statement that a five-member delegation will go to Supreme Court to request for the setting up of an SIT to probe the funding of the three political parties. Instead a lawyer will now file the letter on behalf of the party.
AVAM alleged that the four companies — Skyline Metal and Alloys Private Limited, Goldmine Buildcon Private Limited, Infolance Software Solutions Private Limited and Sunvision Agencies Private Limited — had been dormant for the past several years and had not made any money.
"This is a clear case of money laundering. How is it possible that a former income tax commissioner does not understand money laundering? The companies have not filed a return for 2014 yet but till 2013, these companies had not earned a single penny. The director in three of the four companies is also the same," AVAM's Gopal Goyal alleged.
The AAP replied it was open to investigation by any government agency but did not answer questions regarding who owned these companies.
"We are the only party that declares all its donations transparently. We welcome all the questions that are being raised and are open to any investigation. AVAM has questioned the timing of these donations. I must make it clear that details of the donations are updated on the website in batches at night and that is why this amount is being reflected at 12am," party leader and spokesperson Yogendra Yadav had said.
"This is a conspiracy. We invite the government to order an investigation before the February 7 polls by any of its agencies CBI, ED, IB, police or the army and arrest us if we have done anything wrong."
Meanwhile, the BJP again came out with a new advertisement accusing the AAP of receiving funds from "dubious" companies.
(With ANI and PTI inputs)
Video - AAP's acceptance of black money as funds is 'self-evident': Arun Jaitley