The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Tuesday alleged that its erstwhile member and former MP Baijayant Jay Panda and his wife have bank accounts in a foreign country, possibly in violation of laws relating to foreign exchange regulation and money laundering, for which a criminal prosecution was needed.
BJD leader B Mahtab raised in the Lok Sabha the issue related to Panda, who quit the party and his Parliament membership in June last year after his ties with the party chief Naveen Patnaik went sour.
An Indian passport holder did not take the approval of the government or the RBI before the companies, in which the person, and his wife and his family friends have controlling and beneficial interests, opened bank accounts in the tax haven of Nassau, Bahamas. I am talking about Mr B J Panda, Mahtab alleged.
He added that Pandas defence is that he was neither a student nor an NRI at the relevant time and therefore, he did not need prior approval of the RBI or the government before opening the account.
Mahtab then posed questions like: Did he (Panda) declare the account to RBI once he returned to India and ceased to be an NRI as required under the law? Did Mr Panda intimate the RBI and the government when closing the account and did he repatriate the entire amount held in these foreign bank accounts as is required in the law?
He went on to add, If not, he (Panda) is liable for criminal prosecution under several Indian laws relating to foreign exchange violation and money laundering.
Another BJD leader and MP Pinaki Misra later told ANI that it was for the central government to decide whether to investigate the issue or not.
Mahtab was trying to tell the House that it is unfortunate that BJP is choosing to attack the Odisha government on this. This is a matter relating to the prevention of money laundering as well as foreign exchange violation, if any. They are to be investigated by the Centre, Misra said.
Misra was apparently referring to a tweet by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in which he had said, ....The Orissa Govt has to apprise us of the truth since he was BJD MP and comes from a well known business family. He resigned BJD last May after a quarrel.
Why should the BJP try to throw the ball into the court of the state government which has no role in this matter? So Mahtab was trying to draw the attention of the House that if the Central government has to act in matter, then they must act, the BJD leader said.
Certainly, the ruling BJP (at the Centre) cannot attack the state government merely because Jay Panda was a former member of BJD who had resigned from the Lok Sabha, Misra added. (ANI)