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Volcker: Matherani examined by Pathak panel
May 29, 2006 23:34 IST
The one-man Pathak Inquiry Authority, probing the Indian angle into the oil-for-food scam, on Monday examined India's former envoy to Croatia Aniel Matherani, father of a Congress legislator from Punjab and a Rajasthan Youth Congress leader in connection with alleged kickback in the deal.
The Authority, which recently got an extension of three months to submit its report, questioned Matherani for nearly two hours as he was part of a four-member delegation led by former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh which had visited Iraq in January 2001.
Matherani later told PTI over phone that he did not wish to comment on what had transpired between him and the Authority. "Don't try to rope me now into any controversy again. This meeting was confidential and it shall remain so." The former envoy to Croatia had created a political storm in December 2005 in remarks to a weekly in which he claimed that Natwar was allegedly involved in getting oil vouchers for himself and Congress party from the then Iraqi government headed by Saddam Hussein.
He had later said that his remarks were taken out of context. Others examined by the one-man probe panel were Vipin Khanna, father of Congress legislator from Sangrur Arvind Khanna, and Youth Congress leader from Rajasthan Jameel Saidi. Vipin was prevented from flying abroad in April 2006 as his son, Aditya, had managed to give a slip to immigration officials despite revocation of his passport by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Saidi, whose name cropped in the Volcker Commission report on the food-for-oil scam, later told PTI, "It is very suprising that the Pathak Authority did not ask me anything about the Volcker Commission, former external affairs Minister K Natwar Singh or his son Jagat."
"Seems the Authority was more interested in finding about me. The authority kept asking me about my connections in Iraq and which all companies I represented there rather than on focussing on pay-off and other things," he said.
Saidi told the authority that he was a consultant of few Indian companies who dealt in medicine and other commondities. "There I suo motto added that Andaleep Sehghal and one Asad Khan had appraoched me for lifting of oil ...but the examination ended there," he said.
Asked whether he had been given any fresh date to appear before the authority again, he said "I don't think they require me anymore."