Demonetisation is world’s most elegant money laundering exercise: P Chidambaram

Radhika Dhawad | Sep 1, 2018 19:42

Former finance minister P Chidambaram launches a scathing attack on BJP by calling demonetisation as the world’s most ‘elegant’ money laundering exercise.
P Chidambaram at Hotel Centre Point in Nagpur on Saturday (Photo by: Abhishek Thakare)

Former Finance Minister of India and Congress MP in Rajya Sabha P Chidambaram, while responding to Nation Next’s volley of questions at a media interaction today in Nagpur, said, “A healthy majority of the people of this country have come to a conclusion that demonetisation was an utter failure.” Chidambaram also came down heavily on the BJP government over the multi-crore defence procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from French aircraft builder and integrator – Dassault. The senior leader, further stepping up the attack on the Modi government, accused the latter of ‘ditching’ the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) of plugging billionaire Anil Ambani’s defence firm – Reliance Defence Limited as the partner of Dassault for Rafale deal. With the political slugfest getting murkier by the day, Chidambaram even launched a scathing attack on the BJP by calling demonetisation in India as the world’s most ‘elegant’ money laundering exercise ever invented. Excerpts:

Instead of the debt-free state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which has been making aircraft for 70 years, the Modi government chose debt-ridden businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited, which was floated just few days before cracking the Rafale deal. What’s your opinion on the same? 

My question is – assuming that Dassault is free to choose its partner, why didn’t the government of India advise or persuade Dassault to choose HAL as its partner? The government of India must answer this question. Why did they ditch HAL and allowed Dassault to do the same?

 Rahul Gandhi said that just as demonetisation was implemented to help Modi’s ‘crony capitalist friends,’ Rafale deal was done to benefit Anil Ambani’s group. What’s your say on this?

I don’t want to take names.

Congress has termed demonetisation as the biggest scam…

Let me explain. I was sitting in the Supreme Court when the attorney general stood up and said, ‘Milords, we hope to get three to four lakh crore of black money via demonetisation, and the same money wouldn’t come back to the Reserve Bank of India. The RBI would invalidate the notes, and this would be a gain for the RBI. This gain would be transferred to the government of India by the way of dividend, which would be spent for the development of the country. Out of the rupees 15,42,000 crore, three to four lakh crore wouldn’t come back to the RBI.’ That’s the statement made by the Attorney General of India.

Today, out of Rs 15,42,000 crore, Rs 15,31,000 crore has come back to the RBI. Around Rs 10,000 crore hasn’t come back. But, this amount of 10,000 crore might be a currency in Nepal, Bhutan, etc., or the currency, which was lost in fire, flood or some accident… Or even, currency in the hands of NRIs. If a person goes to America and comes back to India, he has 50 dollars in his hands. Likewise, a person coming to India from America can go back with thousand rupees. Practically, every rupee has come back to the RBI, which means the three to four lakh crore of black money has also come back to the RBI. What the government thought of or described as black money, has now been converted to white money. Until someone investigates and terms the black money as ‘black money,’ it’s white money today.

Like I said, Mr Gandhi too said that demonetisation (we think) was devised to help people convert their hoards of black money into white money. This was the easiest money laundering system devised by the Modi government. Everybody converted their black money into white money. Demonetisation is the most elegant money laundering exercise invented in the world. Elegant because it’s not at all complicated. You give your black money and get white money in return!

Also read: Demonetisation was a huge scam: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress party is claiming that demonetisation is a failure but there seems to be no concrete plan on effectively communicating it to the public, especially when 2019 elections are not very far off. Hasn’t the party learnt any lessons from the 2014 debacle, which was primarily because Modi proved to be a much superior communicator than Rahul Gandhi?

Well, good luck to Mr Modi! (Smiles). A healthy majority of the people of this country have come to a conclusion that demonetisation was an utter failure. I’ve seen reports on television, newspapers, interviews, etc., and I think everyone is of the view that demonetisation is a complete failure. I’m communicating to you and through you, I’m communicating to the people of Maharashtra. Tomorrow, hopefully, it appears in the Marathi media also! (Smiles).