India

India investigates Salman Khurshid embezzlement claims

  • 15 October 2012
  • From the section India
Salman Khurshid and his wife, Louise Khurshid
Image caption Mr Khurshid and his wife have denied the allegations

The authorities in India have begun an investigation into allegations that Law Minister Salman Khurshid and his wife embezzled state funds allotted to a trust they run to help disabled people.

Teams from the Uttar Pradesh economic offences wing are visiting offices of the charity to verify documents.

Anti-corruption campaigners have demanded Mr Khurshid's resignation.

Mr Khurshid says none of the charges levelled by a TV channel and anti-corruption campaigners can be proved.

The Aj Tak news TV channel said that Mr Khurshid and his wife Louise allegedly misappropriated 7.1m rupees ($134,456; £83,815) given by the Social Welfare Ministry to the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust.

The funds were meant for distributing cycles and hearing aids in 17 districts of Uttar Pradesh state.

The alleged fraud, the channel said, involved forged signatures of government officials, a fake court affidavit and non-existent camps to help the disabled.

Mr Khurshid, who belongs to the ruling Congress party, told reporters on Sunday that "not a word [of the charges] can be proved."

"They [the channel and anti-corruption campaigners] can scream, scream and scream till they turn blue in their face," he said.

Mr Khurshid said he was open to an investigation by "any authority", but the probe should also investigate the role of the media group which owned Aj Tak channel.

Mr Khurshid also showed pictures of the camps which he said had been held to help the disabled.

On Monday, anti-corruption campaign Arvind Kejriwal rejected Mr Khurshid's defence and made several fresh allegations against the law minister.

At a press conference, he produced what he said was "evidence" to prove his charges of "bogus" beneficiaries.

Mr Kejriwal alleged that several of the beneficiaries listed by Mr Khurshid on Sunday did not exist and that many of the others named were not disabled.

The allegations are the latest to be aimed at the Congress party, which has been beset by corruption scandals for months.

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