Lalit faced FEMA case when Pranab was FM, says Chidambaram

Under attack from the Modi government for following the “wrong route” to nail Lalit Modi, former Union minister P Chidambaram on Thursday tried to deflect the charges arguing that the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) proceedings against the former IPL boss were lodged when “Pranab Mukherjee was the Finance minister”.

The FEMA cases against Lalit Modi were lodged when “Mr Mukherjee” was the Finance minister, Chidambaram said when asked about Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s charge that the UPA government followed the “wrong route” to get Lalit Modi back to India to face charges of financial irregularities. He said Lalit Modi’s passport was also cancelled when Mukherjee was the Finance minister.

Jaitley had argued that the UPA government had filed a case under FEMA — which has a fine and penalty as maximum punishment — against Lalit Modi instead of the more stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Chidambaram said the then UPA government had launched FEMA proceedings against Lalit Modi and wanted him to be deported from Britain, where he had fled after cases were filed against him.

“The initial case was and could only have been registered under FEMA. That is a starting point. After FEMA in which the punishment is really fine and penalties, you have to investigate that offence and arrive at what is called a “Predicate Offence”,” he said pointing out that Jaitley had mentioned that phrase in his reply.

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