Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma on Monday defended his predecessor Virbhadra Singh rejecting allegations that he had received funds from a steel firm.
He told reporters that the papers seized by the Income Tax Department from Ispat Industries’ office containing the name of a beneficiary as “VBS” were a mere handiwork of company employees to siphon funds.
Mr Verma said that no favour was accorded to the company, once run by the brothers of steel tycoon L N Mittal, on behalf of the Steel Ministry.
“The youngest brother of Lakshmi and Pramod Mittal used to run Ispat Industries. Income Tax department had raided the company in 2010. They took some papers. VBS found mention in that paper. But, I can tell you with confidence on the basis of the information that I have that no favour was made to the company on behalf of the Steel Ministry,” Mr Verma said here.
Mr Verma accused Ispat’s employees of causing the fall of the company by siphoning funds out of its coffers keeping the employers in abeyance.
“I feel the company staff did all these to misguide the employer. They only showed all these expenses and as a result of which, Ispat went into the red,” he said.
Sajjan Jindal-owned JSW Steel had acquired 41 per cent stakes in debt-ridden Ispat Industries in December 2010 for Rs. 2,157 crore. Subsequently, it was named as JSW Ispat. JSW Steel has also initiated steps to merge JSW Ispat with itself.
Mr Verma said the diary not only mentions the name of “VBS” as its beneficiary but also contains the name of a Chief Minister as one who has got monetary benefits from the company for buying a car. Besides, the diary says that the company has paid a sum to get the approval for land and many other miscellaneous expenses.
“Now, who is VBS? What is the credibility of the staff. They have done so much fraud that the company has gone to the red. JSW has taken over the company. Pramod Mittal is denying. You have to find out who is VBS, but is it difficult to find out who was the Chief Minister? Anybody can be VBS, Chief Minister can’t be a different person,” he said.
However, he was quick to add that these all indicate that the expenses shown by the company employees were misleading and there was no need to smell a rat.
“What the staff has written to befool their employers is what we can’t tell. Election is nearing in Himachal and that is why Virbhadra Singh’s name came into being. The diary is of 2010. Why didn’t it come into light earlier?” he said.
Mr Singh was Union Steel Minister from May 2009 to January 2011.