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'Natwar Singh lobbied for Hamdaan Exports'

Source: PTI
September 07, 2006 18:18 IST
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A senior officer of the Indian Foreign Service has told the Enforcement Directorate that former external affairs minister K Natwar Singh had rung him up in Baghdad and spoken about the Indian Mission 'discriminating' against Hamdaan Exports.

This is the firm owned by Andaleeb Sehgal, who is being probed for FEMA violations in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam.

Deposing before the ED on November 22 last year, R Dayakar, the then Indian ambassador to Iraq, said Natwar Singh had telephoned him, saying he had received a complaint that the Indian mission was discriminating against Hamdaan Exports.

'Dayakar had explained the position to Natwar Singh and also to Sehgal to whom the telephone was handed over by Singh,' documents attached to the 18-page show cause notice showed.

Natwar Singh, suspended by Congress on August 8 after he was indicted by the Pathak Authority for misusing his position and helping Sehgal in procuring oil contracts from Iraq, has denied any involvement. He has held that neither he nor his son, Jagat, derived any financial benefit.

The show cause notice said Natwar Singh, his son Jagat, Sehgal, NRI businessman Aditya Khanna and others had 'jointly or severally' without the permission of Reserve Bank of India dealt in or acquired foreign exchange totalling $8,98,027.

This was from two oil contracts with State Oil Marketing Organisation of Iraq.

Both Dayakar and Jagat had corroborated Natwar Singh's 'intercession' on behalf of Hamdaan Exports from Iraq, the ED claimed.

Jagat, in his statement before the ED on December 15 last year, said he had introduced Sehgal to Dayakar during a reception hosted by Indian Embassy for the Congress delegation and even Natwar Singh had spoken on his behalf for promotion of business, according to the documents.

Dayakar, in his deposition, said it was obvious that Sehgal's main purpose to visit Iraq was to promote the business of Hamdaan Exports.

Sehgal visited the Indian Embassy the day after the reception and on his request the Ambassador issued a number of note verbales to the foreign economic relations department of the Ministry of Trade of Iraq recommending Hamdaan Exports for supply of various commodities.

Dayakar said in his statement before the ED that a large number of note verbales were issued in quick succession based on the introduction by Jagat.

Five note verbales had been issued by the Indian Mission to the Iraqi department in favour of Hamdaan Exports for supply of sugar, lentils, wheat, rice, construction material and supply requirements of state company for shopping centres, the documents said.

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