Sonia Gandhi’s Billions of US Dollars?

Business Insider from USA, a forum member on a Yahoo Group – IHRO remarked, had put out a list of world’s richest politicians, and name of Sonia Gandhi figured in it. Curiosity led to a quick search, and indeed the list of 23 politicians had Sonia Gandhi at # 4 and Savitri Jindal at # 7. The news item was old, dated 2 March 2012. It was cited in the context of recent findings of Global Financial Integrity about illegal financial flows [IFF] out of developing countries that had India placed at # 8 with US$ 123 billion outgo in the last decade.
Business Insider relied upon another self same source, World’s Luxury Guide, for its report. WLG’s report is dated 1 January, some 2 months earlier to BI story, and puts Sonia Gandhi at # 13 on the list with a fortune of US$ 4.5 [billion]. BI has given a ridiculously wide range of US$ 2 – 19 billion for Sonia’s fortune making it look like a case of kite flying. How did it come up with this absurd range when the source it relied upon talks of a more specific figure of US$ 4.5 [billion] is open to reader’s guesswork.
WLG gave Forbes.com, OpenSecrets.org, Bloomberg.com, Wikipedia.org, and Guardian.co.uk  as its sources for tabulating its list, and added in good measure that it was current as of March 2012 in a report published on the first day of the year. The only exception made to above sourcing of information was for Sonia Gandhi, in whose case it was said: ^^as listed in Schweizer Illustrierte in 1991 as the alledged wealth of her deceased husband, Rajiv Gandhi^^. Whoop! This source goes back some 21 years. But, then this Swiss magazine did have Rajiv Gandhi in the list with a fortune of Swiss Franc 2.5 million allegedly stashed in Swiss Banks.
This was before the age of internet had dawned. I tried to find out if the magazine –Schweizer Illustrierte– had taken the trouble to digitize all its past issues, but couldn’t determine by surfing its website. The magazine is owned by Ringier A G, reputedly one of the largest media corporations in Switzerland with several newspapers and magazines, in French and in German, published from it stable. With an yearly revenue of CHF 1.5 billion and profits of 62.2 million, it a corporation of not inconsiderable means. The magazine, Schweizer Illustrierte, has a circulation of some 878,000, again not insignificant. Sonia Gandhi’s assets declared in a sworn affidavit before the returning officer at the time of 2009 general elections are minuscule when compared to whopping wealth she is alleged to own  If Sonia Gandhi desires to clear the name of her dear husband or herself, she could sue the corporation for libel for *unfounded allegations*. Wikipedia says of Business Insider, ^^The site provides and analyzes business news and acts as an aggregator of top news stories from around the web, each with an “edgy” commentary. Its original works are sometimes cited by other, larger, publications such as The New York Times^^. That is bad news for someone’s reputation. The World’s Luxury Guide is published by German newspaper Die Welt about which Britannica has this to say, ^^one of the most influential in Germany and the only one of national scope and stature published in Bonn during that city’s time as West German capital^^.  Die Welt is owned by Axel Springer media group that describes itself as Europe’s leading multimedia company. This spells further trouble for the reputation of Gandhi family. All the three sources who have picked up and publicised “Sonia Gandhi Riches” story are well known and well read in their respective countries. All the more reason for Gandhi family to retrieve *their good name* on a war footing. Would they do that, or prefer to hold their silence? 
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One Response to “Sonia Gandhi’s Billions of US Dollars?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    The 1991 Schweizer Illustriete article estimated Rajiv Gandhi's wealth stashed away in Swiss accounts to be 2.5 billion (not million). Apparently, in German, the word 'Milliarden' translates to billion (instead of million as one would guess). Also, as stated in the article, the 1991 figures are based on a report by the consulting firm – McKinsey.So, with 2.5 billion Swiss francs in 1991, an estimate of $4 billion in 2012 (20 years later) seems quite possible (and lesser by some measures).This comment on reddit provides an english translation of the some relevant text from the article – https://reddit.com/r/india/comments/10yg71/what_exactly_are_peoples_grievances_against_sonia/c6hr5frAnother relevant article – http://ramanan50.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/rajiv-2-5-billionsswiss-magazine-confirms/

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