New Delhi : Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday taunted Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s silence on the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam because his lawyer daughter had taken a hefty retainer fee from absconding diamantaire Mehul Choksi’s Geetanjali Gems just a month before the scam became public.
In a tweet titled “#ModiRobsIndia,” Rahul said: “It’s now revealed that our FM’s silence on the PNB Scam was to protect his lawyer daughter, who was paid a large retainer fee by the accused just a month before the scam became public. When other law firms of the accused have been raided by the CBI, why not hers?”
His reference was to a CBI raid, as part of investigations into the PNB scam, on the Mumbai office of law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas which had taken up an assignment just a few weeks before the scam was uncovered.
Rahul’s pointer, based on a report on news portal thewire.in, to the lawyer firm that was not touched is ‘Chambers of Jaitley & Bakhshi,’ which is a firm not only of Jaitley’s daughter Sonali but also of her husband Jaiyesh Bakhshi.
Jaitley’s son-in-law confirmed this in response to a questionnaire by The Wire. His response was: “Before any legal work could be sent to us, a news item appeared in the media with regard to their involvement in a banking scam. We therefore felt it appropriate to unilaterally cancel their engagement and return their retainer fee. It is clarified that the entire retainer amount received from M/s Geetanjali Gems Ltd has been refunded back by Chambers of Jaitley & Bakhshi.
“It is reiterated that we never got any opportunity to either represent M/s Geetanjali Gems Limited or to do any legal work for them, since we terminated their retainer as soon as we heard of their involvement in a banking scam.”
In a second email, The Wire sought clarity on when exactly the engagement was cancelled. Bakhshi replied: “To reiterate the facts, we were retained by M/s Gitanjali Gems Ltd in the month of December 2017. We have rendered no legal service under the retainership agreement since no work was assigned to us.
“When the news item started appearing ‘’and this is after 31st January 2018’’ about the company’s involvement in the banking scam, we immediately unilaterally cancelled the Legal Mandate and refunded the entire retainership amount. The same was refunded through the banking channels.