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Natwar's son questions Volcker report's credibility
November 03, 2005 04:14 IST
External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh's son and Congress legislator Jagat Singh on Wednesday night said the owner of an Indian company that had allegedly paid surcharge to a Swiss firm to import oil from Iraq was his friend.
Volcker panel, which investigated the oil-for-food scam, mentioned in a report that Natwar Singh was a beneficiary of Iraq's oil-for-food programme.
Jagat Singh told NDTV that Andleep Sehgal, owner of Hamdaan Exports, which had allegedly paid surcharge on behalf of Swiss company Masefield AG for the oil import, was his friend but made it clear 'that does not make me privy to his business dealings'.
He also said the Volcker committee had not sought any reaction from his father, though it had got in touch with some other individuals and companies named in the report, sought their opinion and response and had given them a chance to defend themselves.
"You can make any allegation against anybody... but you have to substantiate. The report has talked about my father being a 'non-contractual beneficiary'. But what exactly does that mean... They have kept it open-ended," Jagat Singh said.
Even the Russian and French governments have denied similar charges and said the documents and signatures on them were fakes, he said.
Asked whether they were contemplating legal action, Jagat Singh said no decision had yet been taken on the matter.
To a question on whether he would agree to a probe into the matter in India, he said though he had not been named himself, 'I am sure my father will stick to his statement' that he was ready to face an inquiry.
The Congress MLA from Rajasthan said he had no contact, no dealings with and never heard of (Zurich-based firm) Masefield AG.
Jagat Singh said Paul Volcker had never contacted Natwar Singh for his reaction 'neither on telephone, nor on the Internet and nor through mail. I fail to understand how he could make such a major omission... my father is no ordinary citizen. He is the External Affairs Minister and has great responsibilities'.
Admitting he had visited Iraq twice as a youth Congress member, he said once he was part of a Congress delegation led by his father and on another occasion to attend a youth Conference called by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's Baath Party where delegates from over 100 countries had gathered to seek lifting of sanctions against Iraq.
"Even the National Democratic Alliance government at that time was also of the view that the sanctions should be lifted," Jagat Singh said, adding an NDA delegation had also visited Iraq including Ram Naik and Najma Heptullah.
Asked if he was questioning the credibility of Volcker report, Jagat Singh said 'absolutely'.