Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament Jayant Sinha, who chairs the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Finance, has offered his services for an unspecified monthly fee to an entertainment company, according to a report by The Indian Express. This raised questions of a possible conflict of interest.
Sinha also offered to help secure “sufficient financing at the right terms” for the company, the news report suggested. Sinha wrote to B4U Network CEO Ishan Saksena on February 12 in connection with Tiger Media (a company linked to B4U) after a meeting with non-resident Indian investor Arminder Singh Sawhney in which they discussed the project, the report added.
“I will dedicate significant time to this project,” the newspaper quoted Sinha as having written. “My goal is to assist Tiger Media in becoming a true champion in the global entertainment industry…My pricing for this project would be Rs XX lakhs per month plus GST. I would bill you at the end of every month.”
The news report also cites Sinha as having written that the key objectives of the relationship is to establish a strategic plan for Tiger Media to take advantage of the “disruptive trends roiling the global media and entertainment sector” and secure financing.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the news report.
Sinha was the Minister of State for Finance between November 2014 and July 2016. He was then the MoS for Civil Aviation until May 2019. He has served as the chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Finance since September 2019.
The committee, comprising 21 Lok Sabha MPs and 10 Rajya Sabha members, provides legislative oversight on policies and decisions made by the ministries of finance, corporate affairs, statistics and programme implementation and the NITI Aayog. As the chairperson of the committee, Sinha can summon chiefs of private and public sector banks for deposition.
Asked about a potential conflict of interest, Sinha told the newspaper: “Members of Parliament routinely continue their professions. My profession is that of a management consultant providing strategic inputs through speeches and advisory assignments. To avoid any conflicts, I only accept advisory assignments dealing with strategic issues outside of India. I do not do any work for any firms in the financial sector. I also do not undertake any assignments focused on any type of financial transactions.”
“I have known Arminder Singh Sawhney for more than 25 years. We had initiated preliminary discussions on providing inputs to Tiger Media on its global strategy. No agreement has been finalized and no work has been undertaken so far,” Sinha told the newspaper.
“All my professional work is fully disclosed to the appropriate tax and regulatory authorities. As is standard professional practice, client matters are confidential,” he added.
Responding on behalf of Saksena, a Tiger Media spokesperson told the newspaper: “Tiger Media is an international group, subject to legal requirements across multiple jurisdictions. Arminder Singh Sawhney is not an investor in Tiger Media or any of our group entities. There is no other relationship between our group and him. For ethical and legal reasons our group does not engage any politically affiliated person for seeking any services anywhere in the world. Hence, there is no question of approaching any politically affiliated person for engagement of any nature.”