AAP accuses Mukesh Ambani of money laundering

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mukhesh-and-Prasanth-bhushaNEW DELHI: Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party intensified its attack on Mukesh Ambani, accusing him of being involved in a Rs6,530-crore money-laundering operation that deserved investigation and arrest of India’s richest man, provoking a fierce denial from Reliance IndustriesBSE 0.22 %, the first time it has reacted so strongly to the barrage of allegations levelled against the company and its chairman.

AAP leader Prashant Bhushan issued a statement saying the UPA regime had turned a blind eye to commercial intelligence from Indian diplomats in Singapore seeking the investigation of a company with practically no income transferring large sums of money to firms such as Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure (RGTIL), controlled by the Ambani family.

Reliance, in a statement, said it was the victim of an “orchestrated, politically motivated campaign”. AAP, during its 49-day Delhi state government term, had ordered the filing of a corruption case earlier this month alleging that gas prices are being raised because of crony capitalism involving Ambani, Oil Minister Veerappa Moily and other politicians. AAP kept up its attack on Reliance with a statement that said: “UPA showers benefits to Reliance: one after the other”.

Bhushan distributed copies of a note from the Indian High Commission in August 2011 to the government saying that Biometrix Marketing, which operates from just one room that is mostly closed, had invested Rs6,530 crore in India. Nearly half the amount went to RGTIL, about Rs 1,850 crore to Reliance Ports and the remaining Rs 200 crore to Reliance Utilities LtdBSE 0.13 %, according to the copy of the diplomatic correspondence distributed by AAP. “Thus, it is absolutely clear that Reliance is laundering its ill-gotten profits in India through Singapore (particularly from KG basin gas) and depositing the same into accounts of Mr Mukesh Ambani.

Yet, this UPA government has not even bothered to investigate this and arrest Mr Ambani, and instead showered him with one benefit after another,” AAP said. Reliance vehemently denied this.

“The allegations that illgotten laundered money or profits have either been made or that these have been deposited in the accounts of Mr Mukesh Ambani through Singapore or otherwise are false and are treated by us with the contempt that they deserve,” the company said. It said the investments were completely legitimate and compliant with regulations, adding that Biometrix had invested with money borrowed from ICICI BankBSE 0.12 % in Singapore.

“The allegations made by Mr Prashant Bhushan today (on Thursday) are highly defamatory, false, irresponsible and devoid of any merit or substance whatsoever,” the company said. “These false allegations have been repeatedly made and their regurgitation in the media is fuelling an orchestrated, politically motivated campaign against us,” the company said. It also accused Bhushan of repeating information that’s public knowledge in what it described as a “rehash”.

“The allegations made by Mr Bhushan have been previously made in judicial proceedings in the Delhi High Court and have been appropriately responded to,” it said. “The letter of Singapore High Commission referred to by Mr Bhushan forms a part of these proceedings.” The company rejected the allegation that the money originated from inflating expenses related to its Krishna-Godavari basin D6 field.

ET