On Wednesday, Robert Vadra appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a 2009 money laundering probe relating to alleged possession of illegal foreign assets. Vadra's wife Priyanka Gandhi accompanied him in a white Toyota Land Cruiser, along with SPG personnel, and dropped him outside the agency's office in Jamnagar House in central Delhi. She soon left in her convoy of vehicles.
Vadra entered the ED office at 3:47 pm even as a team of his lawyers arrived minutes before him.
This is the first time Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, is appearing before any probe agency in connection with alleged criminal charges of dubious financial dealings.
Vadra has denied these allegations and termed them a "political witch hunt" against him. Vadra was directed by a Delhi court to cooperate with the investigation being carried out by the central probe agency after he knocked on its door seeking anticipatory bail in this case.
The court asked him to appear before the ED on Wednesday after returning from London. Official sources said Vadra will be put through questions on transactions, purchase and possession of certain immovable assets in London and his statement will be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
ED sleuths are also expected to quiz Vadra about Manoj Arora, an employee of a firm linked to Vadra, Skylight Hospitality LLP. Vadra is likely to be confronted with an email trail between London-based Sumit Chaddha, arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, Arora and himself. Vadra will be also questioned about alleged London properties.
The case relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property — located at 12, Bryanston Square — worth 1.9 million pounds, which is allegedly owned by Vadra. ED told the court it received information about various new properties in London which belong to Vadra.
"This property (12, Bryanston Square, London) was purchased in 2009 by Sanjay Bhandari for GBP 1.9 million and sold in June 2010 for the same amount. Despite incurring additional expenses of approximately GBP 65,900 on renovation of this property, it was sold for GBP 1.9 million without including renovation cost in the sale price," ED alleged in its plea to the court.
"This gives credence to the fact that Sanjay Bhandari was not actual owner of the property but it was beneficially owned by Robert Vadra, who was incurring expenditure on this property. This fact is further inferred from the email dated 05.07.2010 addressed to Manoj Arora by Sumit Chaddha enclosing therewith item-wise expenses incurred and expenditure projected in future for the said property even after the sale of the said property to Sky Light Investment FZE."
The ED will also likely confront Vadra with an email dated 4 April, 2010, in which Bhandari's associate Sumit Chaddha reported the progress of work of renovation. Vadra reportedly replied to the email, saying that he would look into the issue and sort it out. Vadra's lawyers have refuted this allegation, saying he has no business relations with Bhandari and has not entered into any transactions of a financial nature with him.
The agency had carried out raids in this case in December and grilled Arora. Vadra has also been directed by the Rajasthan High Court to appear before the ED on 12 February in connection with another money laundering case being probed by the agency.
Vadra's lawyers said he "is being subjected to a farce of criminal prosecution which actually is beset with nothing else except political vendetta. He is being virtually subjected to unwarranted, unjustified and a malicious criminal prosecution which on the face of it is completely politically motivated and is being done and carried out for reasons other than those prescribed under law."
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Feb 06, 2019 17:09:28 IST