Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Thursday questioned the Arun Jaitley-led finance ministry’s ability to carry out an “impartial investigation” into the Panama Papers revelations, specifically the case of 21st Century Media head Lokesh Sharma.
Ramesh, who was speaking at a press conference held in New Delhi, said that only a Supreme Court-monitored probe could be considered impartial.
The most significant name to crop up in the fourth instalment of the Panama Papers revelation was that of Sharma, said Ramesh, describing him as a “known personality in the world of sports” who enjoys good “relations with senior BJP leaders”.
Giving reasons for his scepticism, Ramesh said that the DDCA (Delhi & District Cricket Association) had authorised association official Chetan Chauhan to ink a three-year deal on in-stadia advertising for international matches with the 21st Century Media on October 14, 2000. This agreement, he said, gave Sharma’s company the right to sell corporate boxes and collect a commission.
Jaitley was the president of the DDCA at that time.
Ramesh contended that as Sharma’s name has now cropped up in the Panama Papers for launching companies in the British Virgin Islands, Jaitley – given his past association with the media company head – could not be expected to carry out an impartial investigation.
He also wondered if the finance ministry could do a proper job of probing the involvement of the “PM’s brand ambassador and other friends”, who had cropped up in the papers.
Raman said three years ago, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists had revealed some papers that mentioned one Abhishak Singh. This was a reference to Abhishek Singh, the son of Chhattisgarh chief minister Dr Raman Singh, he alleged.