The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) admitted to writing off Rs 68,607 crores that were due on the willful defaulters including absconding diamantaire Mehul Choksi. The information came to light after activist Saket Gokhale filed an RTI query on details of top 50 willful defaulters and their present loan status till February 16. The RBI revealed that this huge amount comprised outstanding as well as the amounts technically/prudentially written off till September 30, 2019.
Gokhale told IANS, “I filed this RTI because Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur had refused to reply to this starred question asked in parliament by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, in the last budget session, on Feb 16, 2020. Disclosing what the government didn’t, the RBI’s Central Public Information Officer Abhay Kumar provided the replies on Saturday (April 24), with several startling revelations in the diamond-studded list.”
Gokhale further told IANS, “The apex bank also declined to provide the relevant information on overseas borrowers citing a Supreme Court judgement of December 16, 2015.”
Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems Limited that owed Rs 5,492 crore, besides other group companies of his – Gili India Ltd. and Nakshatra Brands Ltd. – that had taken loans of Rs 1,447 crore and Rs 1,109 crore, respectively topped the list.
With Rs 1,943 crore, liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s now defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd (Rs 1,943 crore) also made his entry in the list. Six out of the 50 names in the list are connected with diamond and gold jewellery industries. While Choksi is currently a citizen of Antigua & Barbados Isles, his nephew and another absconder diamond trader Nirav Modi is in London.
This is why Finance Minister @nsitharaman tried to escape from a straight & clear question asked by Rahul Gandhi.
Sadly – the truth can never stay hidden too long.
Massive kudos to RG for calling the govt’s bluff way back in March!
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) April 28, 2020