Refuting the Congress's allegation that the NDA government helped jeweller Jatin Mehta, who has duped banks -- including the PNB -- of Rs 6,712 crore, flee from India, the BJP on Tuesday said he not only acquired "toxic assets" but also flew out of India during the UPA regime."Most of the advances or Letters of Credit or all the loans were taken between September 2010 and February 2013. If there was lack of due diligence or there was connivance in the banking sector to make these advances available, that was entirely during the previous UPA regime," Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told a press conference.Puri was responding to Congress allegations that the alleged jeweller duped banks of Rs 6,712 crore during NDA regime and the Prime Minister was silent."Many of these loans, bulk of these, took place during UPA 2. There were some loans of earlier vintage which go back to UPA 1," the minister said.Puri said Mehta's last entry in the country and exit from the country was on July 25, 2013, when UPA was in power."To suggest that the NDA government has either anything to do with the generation of those toxic assets or those defaults, is a blatant lie. This is like 'ulta chor kotwal ko daante' (pot calling the kettle black). The Congress allegations are absurd," he said.
Puri said Mehta had acquired the nationality of St. Kitts in 2012 and despite that he came to India four times on Indian passport."He acquired the nationality of St. Kitts in 2012 and used the same passport to travel to India for eight times. He took citizenship of St. Kitts before expiry of his Indian passport. It seems that he was given privilege in obtaining OCI card," he said.He said that the NDA government initiated action against Mehta soon after it came to power in 2014."The first complaint against him was filed in September 2014. The CBI and the ED registered cases against him as the scale of corruption came into notice. Atleast six FIRs were registered in 2017 only," he said.The Congress had on March 1 claimed that the "art of leaving after defrauding banks" is the new culture under the Narendra Modi government, and said that after the PNB fraud accused Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi (jewellers from Palanpur, Gujarat), Mehta had duped the banks, including the Punjab National Bank, of Rs 6,712 crore. "This exposure of Rs 6,712 crore is of three Mehta companies -- Winsome Diamonds and Jewellery Limited, Forever Precious Jewellery and Diamonds Limited, and Su Raj Diamonds. Surjewala said Mehta and his wife gave up their Indian citizenship on June 2, 2016 and settled down in international tax haven of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, with which the Indian government has no extradition treaty.