Monday, September 4, 2006
India’s former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh has, for the first time, been directly accused by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for his involvement in the Iraq oil scam. The ED, which is responsible for enforcing foreign exchange control laws, has alleged that Singh, along with his son Jagat Singh and three others, acquired foreign exchange worth $8.9 lakh illegally. The 18-page show-cause notice issued by the ED says the money was acquired by the accused, in violation of U.N regulations, in exchange for two oil contracts awarded to Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO).
Of the $8,90,000, $7,48,550 was allegedly transferred by them to an account in the Jordan National Bank, the remaining $1,46,247.23, which was the commission for the oil-contracts, was deposited with Barclays Bank, in the Channel Islands. The money was transferred to an account in the name of Indus Trading Company, which itself is owned by Andaleeb Sehgal, a friend of Mr. Singh.
The accused are required to respond to the show-cause notice (issued on the 2nd of September), which Natwar says is an attempt by the ED to “defame” him, within 30 days. The independent Pathak Commission’s report had stated that there was “no material evidence to show that Natwar Singh derived any financial or other personal benefits from the contracts.”