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Srichand Hinduja in Delhi
There is no link between the Dome and the passport application
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 10:53 GMT
Hinduja 'did not seek favours'
Blair and Mandelson in Commons
Peter Mandelson: A close ally of Prime Minister Blair
The billionaire Indian businessman at the centre of a political scandal in the UK over a passport application has denied seeking favours to gain UK citizenship.


I have made an application [for a passport] as it is required as per the rules and regulations of the country

Srichand Hinduja
Srichand Hinduja told journalists in Delhi that he had not asked former government minister Peter Mandelson or anyone else for favours.

Mr Mandelson - a close ally of Prime Minister Tony Blair - resigned from the government on Wednesday after admitting making misleading statements about Mr Hinduja's passport application.

The Hindujas - estimated to be the UK's wealthiest Asian business family - made a donation of $1.5m (1m) to the Millennium Dome project in London, which Mr Mandelson was in charge of at one point.

No dome link

But Srichand Hinduja denied that the passport affair had any connection with the money given to the Millennium Dome.

Millennium Dome
Helped out financing the Millennium Dome
"There is no link between the charity to the dome or anything to do with the passport - that should be very clear," he said.

"I made an application [for a passport] as it is required as per the rules and regulations of the country."

Mr Mandelson, who was Northern Ireland Secretary, had come under increasing pressure following press reports that he pulled strings to help Mr Hinduja secure citizenship.

Kumbh visit

A Indian newspaper reported on Thursday that the Hinduja brothers, who are facing questioning over a big arms scandal in the 1980s, made a secret visit to the Kumbh Mela religious festival in Allahabad.

Kumbh Mela procession
The Hindujas reportedly went to the Kumbh Mela
The Express newspaper said the visit to the festival - the biggest ever gathering of Hindus - was so secret that even senior police officers and festival organisers did not know about it.

The paper said they had planned to stay at the festival, but had to return to Delhi to face further questioning.

The three brothers - Srichand, Prakash and Gopichand - have been charged by Indian investigators with criminal conspiracy and bribery in connection with the purchase of artillery guns from the Swedish Bofors company in 1986.

They deny the charges.

They have been barred from leaving the country while the investigation continues.

The scandal has implicated a number of leading businessmen and politicians, including the former Indian prime minister Rajv Gandhi.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | South Asia
Resignation stirs Indian press
25 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Blair acts over Mandelson affair
22 Jan 01 | South Asia
Hindujas questioned by detectives
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Hinduja brothers: Wealthy and reclusive
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson hits back in passport row
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