Controversial “arms dealer” Abhishek Verma spoke to The Sunday Guardian on a host of issues in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:

Q. What is your present profession? Certain news reports call you an “arms dealer”?

A: We had exited the defence sector five years ago. Besides interests in defence, we always had interests in telecom, and at present, have businesses in countries such as Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and India. In India, we have diversified into soft drinks, ready to eat foods, confectionery, alcoholic beverages and fast-foods in collaboration with Olialia Cola and other associated products of Olialia Group Lithuania. We have also launched Olialia Films, which is a film production and overseas distribution company and our focus is Bollywood masala films production and distribution.

Q. Your name has come up in the 2006 Navy War Room leak, 2009 forgery case and 2012 bribery case in which cases have been filed and trial has begun. Is it merely a coincidence that you are facing three criminal charges, all of which you claim are false?

A: Are you not forgetting that the basic premise of Indian law is that a suspect is innocent till proven guilty? In 1999-2000, I had testified against a very powerful politician and since that very day, my life has been out of control. That man has done his best to involve me in false cases and subjected me and my family to harassment due to his clout. (The man Abhishek Verma is referring to is a Congress leader who was close to the party president.)

It is unfortunate that the system in this country is such that people like us face TV trial prior to facing court trial. When I was arrested in these cases, I was front page news with stories continuously airing nonstop for three months about me, my lifestyle and parties.

When I was exonerated in a corruption case that was investigated by the CBI and Scorpene submarines purchase controversy by Hon’ble courts, not even a single line was published by the media. So when it is bad news, I am on page one….and when it is good news, the media editors call it “not newsworthy enough”.

Q.  What is your relation with C. Edmonds Allen and for how long have you known him? Why has it soured now?

A. C. Edmonds Allen and I had a client-attorney relationship since 2000. In a real-estate transaction in Noida, in 2011, Allen cheated me of Rs 55 crore and I was constrained to file a criminal case of cheating/fraud and another of defamation in the Patiala House Courts. Allen has now joined hands with the same political adversary I had since 1999 and at his instructions, is doing a hit job of morphing photos, sending fake and fabricated emails from his document factory in New York. He has declined the summons of CBI courts and written to the judges causing contempt of court, that he would never be coming to India to testify. Allen is nobody but a character assassin for hire. I am surprised why Indian media, without even having met Allen or interviewing him face to face, just goes on to believe each word he writes against me, my family or the people I know.

Q. Your parents were respected individuals in their fields. How do you feel about the fact that your name comes up in one controversy or the other so regularly?

A: Please don’t drag my parents in this mess. I feel bad that my name crops up in one controversy or the other every now and then; however, I am not the one who creates these controversies. It is wretched people like Allen and a group of politicians who have been baying for my blood since 1999 who create these controversies, which ultimately turn out to be false and frivolous—and after creation of such controversies, they leak it to the press and use their contacts in the media for defamation.

Q.  You have been accused of using your parents’ goodwill for business purpose. How would you like to respond?

A: This allegation is absolutely rubbish. I have never used my parents’ goodwill or name in business.  However, if I walk into an office or a meeting and people already recognise me for my family and background, then how do you expect me to react? Should I tell them that I am not the son of late Shrikant Verma and Mrs Veena Verma? Intentionally, I have never used my family name or goodwill to further my business, nor had ever asked my parents to fix appointments for me anywhere.

Q. How long have you known BJP MP Varun Gandhi and when was the last time you met him?

A: I came in contact with him when he was young and studying in UK sometime between 1998-2000. I was then an NRI living in London. The last time I think I met with him was in 2003 or 2004. I have not met him after he joined politics, circa 2004.

Q. You were offered a chance to contest the Lok Sabha elections on a Congress ticket not long ago. Do you have any plans to enter politics now?

A: That was way back in March 1996, but I declined due to personal reasons, especially because I was an NRI back then and I did not wish to move to India. However, now I am determined to enter politics and serve the people who have given me so much in life. However, I won’t run for office prior to clearing my name in each and every false case that is against me. I have nurtured my parents’ constituency in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, for over 20 years now, and if and when I do enter politics, it would be from Chhattisgarh.

Q. In 1997, a magazine had carried your picture on its cover as “India’s youngest billionaire” and now the same media sees you as a “blackmailer”. Almost 20 years later, do you think that you should have done  things differently?

A: I was on the cover of India Today in 1997 as “India’s Youngest Billionaire” and subsequently, on other national/international magazine covers. However, controversies surround me due to the aforesaid reasons as explained earlier, and those who dislike me, have ganged up together like a pack of rabid dogs and are maligning my reputation continuously since 2001.

This is the sad part about Indian media. The media here tries you on TV and then hangs you immediately, even before you had a chance to defend yourself or present your case to the world.

With regard to the present controversy, Varun Gandhi had stated in his press statement of Saturday that he was never blackmailed. In my first rejoinder of 20 October 2016 and the second one of 24 October that was released to the media, I have also stated that I never blackmailed anyone, be it Gandhi or anyone else. What the media did between 20 October and today was unfair by running and airing stories that “Abhishek Verma blackmailed Varun Gandhi”.

Q. When the aggrieved party has stated that no blackmail took place, then that should be it. Or is it the case that Prashant Bhushan and Allen know better than Varun Gandhi and Abhishek Verma about this matter?

The media/press should exercise restraint in reporting such stories. It is really unfair that morphed photos of individuals were put up on the Internet and published on some social media sites and web news services without even waiting for results of forensic tests, which I have sent these photos for, in UK just two days back. The Internet is full of millions of explicit photos of Indian actresses and Hollywood ones and all these photos are morphed. Then why in this particular case these photos were circulated and published and such importance attached to it? Was it not orchestrated politically? Why were these photos released from New York and why did that unscrupulous man Allen go into hiding behind his computer to interact with the media? Why does Allen not fly to India, meet with the press and appear in the cases pending against him in Delhi courts?

We have initiated legal action against C. Edmonds Allen, Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Vikki Choudhary and one or two media outfits and webnews services in the above matter, and would be initiating contempt of court proceedings as well, against some/all these persons separately.

 

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