Bengaluru: The Congress on Saturday called Minister of Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal’s alleged sale of shares held in a privately-held company at nearly 1,000 times the face value as a “murky saga” of “gratification, gross impropriety and conflict of interest.” The party also sought his removal and a “comprehensive, independent investigation” into the matter.
“I demand Prime Minister Narendra Modi to answer why is he silent on this issue,’’ said former union minister Prithviraj Chavan while addressing media persons in Bengaluru.
Citing an article published in the website The Wire, Chavan alleged the BJP leader had sold, in September 2014, the entire stock of the privately-held company he and his wife owned, at nearly 1,000 times the face value to a group firm owned by Ajay Piramal, without informing the Prime Minister’s Office then or later. The transaction took place four months after Goyal became a minister.
He alleged that Goyal’s ownership of the company — Flashnet Info Solutions (India) Private Limited — nor its subsequent sale were disclosed in the mandatory statement of assets and liabilities he made to the Prime Minister’s Office in 2014 and 2015.
Chavan also alleged that Goyal and his wife, who owned 50,070 shares of Flashnet Info priced at Rs 10, sold the entire stock at a premium of 1,000 per cent to a group company of Piramal Estates Private Limited. He held the Power and Renewable Energy portfolio in the Union Cabinet for four months at the time.
He said that the board resolution of Piramal Enterprises on June 12, 2014, authorised the purchase of the entire stock of 50,070 shares in Flashnet Info held by Goyal and his wife “for a consideration not exceeding Rs 10,000 per share.”
Piramal group entered the renewable energy business in 2013 and in July 2014 inked a deal with APG Asset Management for investments worth $1 billion in various infrastructure projects, including in the power sector, according to details given by the website. Khera called this a “clear case of conflict of interest and brazen crony capitalism.”
Goyal served as director of Flashnet from November 25, 2004, to May 26, 2014 — the day he was sworn in as Minister for Power and Renewable Energy. Seema Goyal was a director from April 2009 till May 26, 2014. The couple, however, continued to own almost 99 per cent of the company even after resigning as directors, the website alleged.
Chavan said that the transactions raised several questions which needed to be answered by Goyal, including why the Piramal group bought Flashnet Info from him for a whopping Rs 48 crore; why did he not mention his controlling stake in Flashnet when he was MP, BJP’s National Treasurer and then Union Cabinet minister; why as Union minister he did not declare his ownership and his wife’s ownership in Flashnet while declaring his assets on the PMO website; and why had the PM not questioned him.