An award-winning journalist, Paskal writes for Sunday Times, Telegraph and the Economist. Her books have won multiple awards. An Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, the US Department of State, those consulting her include US Department of Energy, US Army War College, UK Ministry of Defence, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK Defence Academy, EU, NATO, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the heads of many major corporations, and intelligence professionals from over 30 countries. Associated with Manipal University and School of Communication and Management Kochi, she is familiar with India. She blogs in Huffington Post, the world's third most popular news website that commands over 38 million visitors viewing half-a-billion pages every month. Founded in 2005, it became instant success. In February this year, AOL acquired it for $315 million (`1,450 crore). In 2008, the Observer, London, rated Huffington Post, the winner of several awards, as the worlds' best blog. Now back to Paskal on Sonia.
Acknowledging that Sonia's "image is of a dutiful, submissive Indian wife, now widow", Paskal notices the "growing, persistent murmurs about questionable business deals and inexplicable exponential jumps in the personal wealth of her and her family". Paskal recalls "the ground-breaking articles" that M D Nalapat, a senior journalist, had written about Sonia in 1995 in "the Times of India". Paskal says that Nalapat's comment that her "public docility was just a ploy" and "she had serious political ambitions", was "later confirmed by her role in the Congress". Paskal also emphasises Nalapat's view that "her desire for power wasn't simply altruistic and that the wealth not only of her, but of her Italian relatives, rose stratospherically after Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister in 1984". Paskal points out that while his articles were undisputed, Nalapat was forced out of journalism in 1998 when, as he had predicted, Sonia took over the Congress.
Then Paskal cites the "public questions from another highly reputed source, Sten Lindstrom, Sweden's special prosecutor", who investigated the Bofors pay-off scam. Paskal points out Lindstrom's interview in 1998 in which he had said that "the Gandhis, particularly now Sonia, should explain how Quattrocchi-owned companies got such fat sums as payoffs from the Bofors deal. After all, what is the connection of Sonia and the Gandhi family to Quattrocchi? Who introduced Quattrocchi and his AE Services to Bofors? At least one thing is certainly known now. A part of the payoffs definitely went to Quattrocchi. (...); the papers all pointed to the Gandhi family." Paskal points out, "Not only have the questions not been answered by Sonia, but in spite of substantial evidence against him, Quattrocchi has managed to evade prosecution in India, and has even had his kickback funds unfrozen from
"But the most serious threat to Sonia," warns Paskal, "is now lying on the desk of the prime minister of India." That is Dr Subramanian Swamy's written request to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for sanction to prosecute Sonia for corruption. Paskal says: "In a meticulously researched 200-plus page submission, Dr Swamy alleges Sonia Gandhi has been involved in corruption in India since 1972 and personally benefited from the Bofors scam (1986), has held billions in non-Indian bank accounts since at least 1991, illegally profited from the Iraqi oil-for-food deals (2002), and even accessed KGB payoffs during the Cold War." Obviously Paskal has read the complaint thoroughly.
Adding that the prime minister has three months' time to grant or reject the request, she says, "If he doesn't, Dr Swamy can take the case directly to the Supreme Court, which, under Chief Justice Kapadia, is showing a definite proclivity towards facilitating corruption cases." "Given the growing importance of India in our heavily globalised world," Paskal concludes, the permission sought to prosecute Sonia "is not just an Indian story; this is one all should be following very closely indeed." In Paskal's view, the bribery charges against Sonia will have global reach.
Now shift to the Indian scene. With most mainline media blacking out the truth, the people are unaware of much of what Paskal says about Sonia's suspected corruption. On the contrary, they see a saint in her. Result: Sonia, who Paskal suspects as corrupt, nonchalantly proclaims 'Zero Tolerance' to corruption. And the mainstream media, sidestepping questions over her integrity, celebrates her resolve. More. Sonia laments that Indians have "become greedy", their "moral universe has shrunk", and the media eulogises her candidness. Further. Declaring support to Anna Hazare, who staked his life for anti-corruption law, she earns Anna's gratitude and media glory. But she forthwith lets the Sibals, Digvijays and Tiwaris to set upon Bhushans, Anna's men, and also shockingly disapproves of them. Yet the media does not ask her how her minions could defy her. Finally, the mainstream media has blacked out Dr Swamy's "meticulous" complaint against Sonia. A reader's gratitude to Paskal for "shedding light on an issue that is taboo in Indian mainstream media" tells the true story. QED: Sonia, a suspect, is now morphed into a crusader.
The writer is co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch
Statement of Dr.Subramanian Swamy, President of the Janata Party.
The Congress demand for the resignation of Karnataka Chief Minister Mr.Yeddiruppa, holding him responsible for the nefarious activities of the Reddy brothers, is ridiculous. The whole nation is aware that the Reddy brothers have been working to undermine Yeddiruppa, and in fact brought the Government into a crisis about a year ago by abducting 56 MLAs and hid them in five star hotels in Hyderabad and Goa.
Mr.Yeddiruppa has as a disciplined party worker, tolerated all their subversive activities and agreed to the direction of his party High Command, to reinstate the Reddy brothers into important positions in the Government.
Therefore the Congress Party should instead be asking the BJP High Command to explain why they forced Mr.Yeddiruppa to tolerate the Reddy brothers for such a long time in the face of blatant violation of the law committed, including illegally exporting high quality of iron ore from Karnataka to China.
The Congress in fact should ask the patrons of Reddy brothers, including those inside the Congress, who have so far been protecting them from being apprehended by law.
Dr.Subramanian Swamy, Janata Party President and former Union Cabinet Minister for Law &Justice, today submitted a Petition of 206 pages, seeking from the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh the required Sanction to prosecute Ms. Sonia Gandhi under Sections 11 & 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Sanction is required under Section 19 of the Act because she is Chairperson of the National Advisory Council with Cabinet rank.
In his Petition to the PM, Dr.Swamy has made out a prima facie case on documentary circumstantial evidence that Ms.Gandhi abetted Italian businessman and close family friend Ottavio Quattrocchi to obtain an illegal commission in the Bofors Gun Purchase deal, and then influenced the government of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to enable Mr. Quattrocchi to escape from the country in July 1993. Thereafter she directed the Union Law Minister in 2005 to enable Mr. Quattrocchi to get his London accounts de-frozen and decamp scot free with over $ 200 million [about Rs 1000 crores].
Dr.Swamy has also made out a prima facie case that Mr. Gandhi has illegally held in Swiss bank accounts illegal monies of about Rs. 10,000 crores received as a legatee in 1991 following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. He also produced an admission on record of the spokesperson of the Russian government that KGB had provided funds to Ms. Gandhi and her family, as also evidence that she had received commissions on Indo-Soviet trade, which were illegal under Indian law.
In his Petition, Dr.Swamy has also catalogued a list of offences prima facie committed by Ms.Sonia Gandhi since 1974 which shows that she is an habitual offender who deserves to be prosecuted and punished.
For Janata Party
(Pran Nath Mago)
PA to Dr.Swamy
15, April 2011
Prime Minister as Sanctioning Authority
u/s 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (1988) [PCA]
South Block, New Delhi.
Re: Sanction to prosecute Ms.Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson (in Cabinet Rank), NAC, under Prevention of Corruption Act (1988).
1. Ms.Sonia Gandhi MP, wife of the deceased Rajiv Gandhi, was first appointed as Chairperson National Advisory Council [NAC] in May 2004. She resigned in 2006 but was re-appointed by an Order of the Cabinet Secretariat dated March 29, 2010, read with Order dated October 8, 2010 [Annexure 1].
2. As per Order of May 31, 2004 [Annexure 2] the Prime Minister’s Office will provide Central Government funds to meet the expenditure of the NAC, and service the NAC for its secretarial needs. Hence she is a public servant as defined in Section 2 ( c ) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (1988).
3. You, in your capacity as deemed appointing authority are therefore the Designated Authority under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act for granting Sanction to prosecute the said Ms. Sonia Gandhi. As you know, there are no laches or statute of limitations for prosecuting offences of corruption.
4. Your Sanction is required by me for prosecuting Ms. Sonia Gandhi on a private complaint proposed to be filed by me in the criminal court under Prevention of Corruption Act (1988), based on the materials available to me (and enclosed with this letter/application) with reference to two issues:
5. Ms.Sonia Gandhi holds office which enables her to give direction to Government departments and Ministries and also call for confidential reports from CBI, and according to the then Union Law Minister, she can even call for files [Annexure 3]. She has been as Chairperson of NAC giving directions to several ministries and departments.
6. It is charged that she obtained for, and colluded with family friend, Mr. Ottavio Quattrocchi—an Interpol Red-Corner Noticee & a proclaimed offender under Indian criminal law, to obtain for him the pecuniary advantage from defreezing of his CBI-frozen account, thus committing offence u/s 13 (1)(d) of the PCA, and also conspired with Quattrocchi to enable him to escape prosecution in Bofors Gun Purchase scam.
7. Bofors scam that occurred in 1986 represents corruption in very high places and the key figure in the scam is Mr. Ottavio Quattrocchi, the Italian family friend and fixer. The then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi was manipulated by Ms.Sonia Gandhi, his Italian born wife, to abet the crime in Bofors gun purchase committed by Quattrocchi against the nation.
8. Ms.Sonia Gandhi stationed Mr.Walter Vinci, her brother-in-law, in Sweden to influence her husband and then Prime Minister, when on a visit to Sweden to finalize the Bofors Deal. Also present in the same hotel was the Italian fixer, small arms supplier, and Snam Progetti agent, Mr. Ottavio Quattrocchi, [who was hailed as the catalyst in the deal by the CBI in their Letters Rogatory documents], and who had in return for a hefty commission prevailed on the Prime Minister to sign the deal before March 31, 1986.
9. Thereafter when the arm of the law began reaching near him, he escaped from India in 1993, then from Malaysia in 2002 via a rigged court judgment obtained by collusion with as yet unnamed parties and from Argentina— by the CBI fudging the records – all achieved under
the influence exerted by Ms. Sonia Gandhi under three different and consenting Prime Ministers.
10. This is further confirmed in the interview conducted by Ranjit Bhushan of Outlook magazine [Annexure 4 ] in 1998 with Mr.Sten Lindstorm, the Chief of the Investigation Division of Swedish National Bureau of Investigation and Special Prosecutor of the Swedish Government into the Bofors payoffs. The Swedish National Audit Bureau which he assisted concluded after an independent probe that bribes had indeed been paid in the Bofors deal.
11. Lindstorm states in the interview, which has not been contradicted by anyone including Ms. Sonia Gandhi, that: “The Bofors Papers all point to the [Sonia] Gandhi family” and further that Ms.Sonia Gandhi should “explain how Quattrocchi-owned companies got such fat sums as payoffs from the Bofors deal.”
12. This report is corroborated by another interview given by Lindstorm to Chitra Subramanian [Indian Express, March 22, 1998] wherein he stated; “All information we had at that time pointed to the Gandhi link—Sonia Gandhi should place her cards on the table. The bribes have been traced to her friend and this is not something out of the blue. This is no coincidence.”
13. Headlines Today is in possession of the written statement of then Intelligence Bureau officer Naresh Chandra Gosain made before CBI Inspector Ghanshyam Rai on March 29 1997. Between 1984 and 1987, Gosain was posted in the Special Protection Group[SPG] of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was part of the escort team. Between 1987 and 1989, Gosain served as the Personal Security Officer or the PSO of Sonia Gandhi.
14. During the tenure of Prime Minister Deve Gowda in 1997, Gosain deposed before the CBI. This deposition has so far never been made public. Headlines Today dug out this deposition, in which Gosain talks at length about the close family ties between the Gandhis and the Quattrocchis.
15. In his testimony Gosain says, "Mr.Ottavio Quattrocchi and his wife Ms Maria Quattrocchi were very close to Mr Rajiv Gandhi and Mrs Sonia Gandhi. When Shri Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister, Mr. Quattrocchi and his family members used to visit PM house and the family members of Shri Rajiv Gandhi also used to visit the house of Mr.Quattrocchi."
16. He adds: “In the initial period of Prime Ministership of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, the children of Shri Rajiv Gandhi used to stay at Mr.Quattrocchi's house during the foreign visits/domestic visits of the Prime Minister. We used to perform our shift duties at the residence of Mr.Quattrocchi on such occasions. Sometimes, Mrs Sonia Gandhi has also stayed in the house of Mr.Quattrocchi and at that time we used to perform our duties there."
Gosain goes on to add that Mr.Quattrocchi and his wife Maria enjoyed free access to the Prime Minister's house. “At No. 5 & 7 Race Course Road, private cars were not allowed to enter inside the bungalow. Only the ferry cars of SPG, after severe security checks, used to carry such visitors from reception to porch and back. Mr. Quattrocchi and Mrs Maria Quattrocchi were very close to Shri Rajiv Gandhi's family and they got free access to the PM's House.”
He further added: "All visitors to No 5 & 7 Race Course Road were issued passes at the reception near the alighting point. Every time, a card was kept ready for Mr. Quattrocchi and his family members as and when they visited the PM's house. Everybody in SPG posted at PM house knew Mr Quattrocchi and his family members. Hence, there was no question of identifying them."
17. Ottavio Quattrocchi's proximity to the Gandhis is well known. What is also known is this proximity continued even after Quattrocchi began to be linked to the Bofors scandal. What documents show is that despite the cloud of suspicion surrounding Quattrocchi's involvment in the Bofors paybacks, he continued to have unfettered access to 10 Janpath, the residence officially assigned to Ms.Sonia Gandhi, which in itself makes her a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
18. It is important to recollect that by January 25, 1990, a team of CBI officials was already in Switzerland with a list of suspected recipients of the Bofors payback. According to a Frontline magazine story of the time, Ottavio Quattrocchi was the first name on that list. Between 1988 and 1990, the media too carried many stories about the involvement of Quattrocchi as a middleman in the Bofors deal.
19. It is clear from records that Mr.Quattrocchi was the direct beneficiary of bribe payments in the Bofors scam. It is now confirmed by the ITAT Report of the Hon’ble Tolani & Sharma Bench [Annexure 5 ].
The testimony of Mr. Sasi Dharan is crucial in further unravelling the proximity of Quattrocchi to Ms. Sonia Gandhi.. Sasi Dharan worked as a driver in Snam Progetti. Snam Progetti was an Italian public sector giant that was represented in India by Ottavio Quattrocchi. Sasi was Quattrocchi's personal driver. He drove Mercedes No.DIA 6253. In his testimony before the CBI, Sasi details the frequent meetings between the Gandhis with the Quattrocchis.
20. In his testimony Sasi says: "Shri Quattrocchi and Mrs Maria Quattrocchi were very close to Shri Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and his family. I do not know what type of relation they had but Quattrocchi and his wife Maria used to frequently visit the house of Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. I knew it since 1985 when I joined service. At that time they used to visit the house of Rajiv Gandhi twice or thrice in a day. Whenever Sonia Gandhi's mother or father visited India, I used to drive them to the house of Quattrocchi. They used to remain there for the whole day and Mrs Maria Quattrocchi would take them for shopping. They used to come to India four or five times in the year."
21. What is clinching is the car log maintained by driver Sasi Dharan. In this log, Sasi details the exact dates when Ottavio Quattrocchi came to meet Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi at 5 and 7 Race Course Road or 10 Janpath. These logs are for the period 1989 to 1993. In this log book, Sasi Dharan has mentioned 41 occasions when Quattrocchi came to meet the Gandhis.
22. It is important to note that the meetings between Ottavio Quattrochi and Sonia Gandhi continued even after the death of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 even as Ms.Sonia Gandhi remained as a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
23. According to Sasi Dharan, Quattrocchi came to 10 Janpath 21 times after May 1991. Considering the long financial dealings of Mr.Quattrocchi since 1976 with LTTE (the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi), this fact is a subject of a future application for sanction as well.
24. Sasi concludes by saying: "Shri Quattrocchi left India on the night of July 29, 1993 and on this day also I had driven him to the airport. At that time he did not have any luggage except one briefcase and he told me he was going for an urgent meeting. Usually, whenever Mr. Quattrocchi wanted the car, he would tell me in advance, but the day he left, he did not tell me (in advance)". Obviously he had notice of his impending arrest by CBI in advance.
25. As a consequence of the misuse of her office and position, Ms. Sonia Gandhi helped Ottavio Quattrocchi not only escape from the country, and in 2005 even to withdraw $ 29 million from his de-frozen accounts and thus let off scot free.
26. Hence, it is prima facie obvious that Ms.Sonia Gandhi had misused her office [ she was Life President in the Government funded Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts Trust(IGNCA Trust) during 1991-2002] and thus a public servant with considerable influence in government to enable Mr. Quattrocchi to escape from India in 1993 and later in 2005 to benefit Mr.Quattrocchi to illegally gain monetarily at the expense of the Consolidated Fund of India, by defreezing his London accounts.
27. This complaint against Sonia Gandhi also includes the corrupt monies held under her control in the tax haven of Switzerland as a legatee of the corrupt money which was banked in the name of her late husband or deposited by her of funds obtained from the erstwhile KGB, the Soviet Union’s Intelligence Agency, or by sale of illegally exported antiques in the country. I retain the right to submit details of other illegal accounts in other havens such as Macao at a later stage in another application to you or before the court.
28. It is well-reported that Sonia Gandhi is the beneficiary of Rajiv Gandhi's estate which includes the corrupt monies continued even now to be held in a tax havens. Why this money is held abroad (even if held as a trust to benefit family members) instead of its being held in India within the Indian financial system to benefit the nation is a question which Ms.Sonia Gandhi must answer.
29. Violations of FEMA have occurred as also under Prevention of Money Laundering Act. In case any transaction on this account which is not reported in the Income Tax Returns, and FCRA is also a violation. There may also be an issue of obtaining RBI prior permission for holding such large sums abroad if it is claimed to be a legitimate account.
30. It is clear that this wealth was not reported in Election Affidavits of Sonia Gandhi & Rahul Gandhi as a beneficiary of the monies so held [Annexure 6]. The total wealth of both Gandhis, as per their election returns, is just Rs 363 lakh, Sonia owns no car. "
31. When Schweizer Illustrierte a prestigious German language Swiss magazine alleged that Rajiv Gandhi held an illegal account in Swiss banks of about US $ 2 billion, neither she nor her son, protested, or sued the magazine, then or later [Annexure 7].
32. When major papers, The Hindu and The Times of India included, had carried in the year 1992 the official confirmation of KGB payments to the Rajiv Gandhi family, adding that the Russian government owned the payments in the disclosures, neither of the two Gandhis challenged or sued them [Annexure 8].
33. Nor did they sue Dr. Yevgenia Albats, a member of the official Commission on KGB Operations set up by President Yeltsin, when she wrote about KGB payments to Rajiv Gandhi and family in her book: The State within State [Annexure 9]
34. More than $ 2 billion in 1991 was being held by Ms. Sonia Gandhi as a legatee, or otherwise obtained by receiving stolen movable and immovable properties, monies and securities, kept illegally in tax haven banks of Switzerland and elsewhere, and which is disproportionate to her known sources of income. She thus has also committed offence u/s 13(1)(e) of PCA. It also attracts the IPC Sections for receiving stolen property.
35. The recent deposition of Hasan Ali, alleged to have siphoned money of the nation to Switzerland secret accounts admits to his close association not only with her but with Mr.Ahmed Patel MP and political adviser to Ms.Sonia Gandhi [Annexure 10 ].
36. Ms. Sonia Gandhi is also obviously culpable under Indian criminal law such as FCRA for the pay offs in the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scam of 2002. The United Nations had set up an independent inquiry committee under Dr. F. Volcker which found that the “Congress Party” headed by Ms. Sonia Gandhi as a beneficiary of a free oil quota from the now deposed and deceased dictator Saddam Hussein, which the beneficiary sold at market price through Marc Rich, the notorious swindler who had been convicted by a US Court for 350 years and several million dollars as fine. He was pardoned by US President Clinton in 2000 on Israeli Prime Minister’s intervention. He lives in Switzerland.
37. No one in Congress Party but Ms. Sonia Gandhi as party President could have been this beneficiary. The other beneficiary listed in Volcker’s Report was by name: Natwar Singh, who got much less [Annexure 11].
38. I reserve the right to further petition you to enlarge the scope of this sanction at a future date to include other violations and offences committed by Ms.Sonia Gandhi under Prevention of Corruption Act (1988), for which I will file with you a separate application if necessary..
39. But, in this application alone there is substantive prima facie evidence for an appropriate court to take cognizance of the offence committed by Ms.Sonia Gandhi under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and thus I seek your sanction to initiate the criminal law to prosecute her under the Act
40. Ms. Sonia Gandhi is habitually committing acts of corruption since 1972. On November 19, 1974, I brought it to the attention of the Rajya Sabha that Ms. Sonia Gandhi, then an Italian citizen had functioned as a benami insurance agent of public sector insurance companies, and giving her address as 1, Safdarjung Road, New Delhi which was then the official residence of the Prime Minister of India. She thus committed an offence under FERA. The then Prime Minister Mrs.Indira Gandhi subsequently informed the Rajya Sabha that following my disclosure, Ms. Sonia Gandhi had resigned from this agency earning commissions.
41. Between January 25, 1973 and January 21, 1975 she held a post of Managing Director of Maruti Technical Services on a salary despite it being an offence under FERA. But then she had become Managing Director of Maruti Heavy Vehicles Pvt Ltd with an even bigger remuneration. For neither post she had the necessary qualifications having never passed even High School.The Justice A.C. Gupta Commission appointed in 1977 by the Janata Party Government found her guilty of multiple offences under FERA and IPC.
42. In 1980 and January 1983 Ms. Sonia Gandhi then still an Italian citizen enrolled herself as a voter in the New Delhi constituency despite having been struck off the list in 1982 upon the ERO receiving a complaint from a citizen. She thus committed an offence under Section 31 of the Representation of the People’s Act read with Form 4 of the Registration of Electors Rules(1960).
43. Ms.Sonia Gandhi’s Indian citizenship acquired in record speed in April 1983 is vitiated by her incomplete answers to mandatory questions in the citizenship forms. She did not submit documents from the Italian government of relinquishing her Italian citizenship required for Indian citizenship, stating in the Form that it was ‘not applicable” [Annexure 12]. Italian Embassy in New Delhi simply affirmed what she told them and hence that cannot be taken as a valid document of relinquishment for the purposes of citizenship. She also retrieved her Italian passport in 1992 after citizenship laws in Italy were amended which under Section 10 of the Citizenship Act (1955) means cancellation of her Indian citizenship.
44. All these facts stated above were put together and published in USA in a full page advertisement in the New York Times in 2008 by NRIs N. Kataria and others. The Congress Party unit in USA thereafter engaged the most expensive law firm and filed a $200 million defamation suit. However Ms.Sonia Gandhi refused to appear in the witness box and be cross examination. Therefore, Justice Emily Goodman of the New York State Supreme Court dismissed the suit since defamation suits in law have to be filed by the person claiming to be defamed, and therefore cannot be assigned to others [Annexure 13]. Ms. Sonia Gandhi had a case to rebut these facts, then why she failed to turn up in court?