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Published On: Wed, Feb 6th, 2019

Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra appears before ED in money laundering probe

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VADRA-7NEW DELHI:  Robert Vadra, wife of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, appeared before the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday for recording his statement in connection with a money laundering probe into some properties located in the U.K. Accompanied by Ms. Gandhi, Mr. Vadra reached the ED office around 3.45 p.m. and joined the investigation being conducted by an Assistant Director and supervised by a Deputy Director. The agency had prepared a list of more than 40 questions for him. He was quizzed for more than five hours.
Mr. Vadra, while giving his statement, is learnt to have denied any link with the properties under investigation or association with anyone connected to them. On February 2, Mr. Vadra approached a city court seeking anticipatory bail in the matter. His counsel submitted before the court that he was then out of the country for his mother’s treatment and would join the investigation on February 6. The court granted him protection till February 16.

The probe pertains to the allegations of money laundering in the acquisition of foreign assets, including a London property worth 1.9 million pounds that was allegedly bought by absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. The agency alleged that Mr. Vadra controlled the property. It was sold in 2010.Mr. Vadra has denied the charges. In the bail plea, he said that he was being subjected to unwarranted, unjustified and malicious criminal prosecution which on the face of it is completely politically motivated and is being carried out for reasons other than those prescribed under law.

Last week, Delhi court has granted interim bail to  Mr. Vadra in this case and had directed him to appear before the ED and cooperate in the investigation.The agency  told the court that it had received information about Vadra’s several properties in London including two houses and  six flats . Businessman Robert Vadra, who was questioned today for more than five hours by the Enforcement Directorate, has denied owning properties in London or knowing any of the people the agency says were involved in the deals, sources said.

He has called the cases against him a political witch-hunt. He left the agency’s office close to 10 pm, nearly six hours after he went inside.The case involves nine London-based properties allegedly owned by Mr Vadra worth several million pounds. Three of these are villas, the rest luxury flats purchased between 2005 and 2010.  Sources said Mr Vadra has denied any association with absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and his cousin Summit Chadha, key to the case. He has also denied that he directly or indirectly owns properties in London.

He has admitted to knowing Manoj Arora, a former employee of a firm linked to him, Skylight Hospitality LLP. He has, however, denied that Manoj Arora ever wrote any e-mail on his behalf, sources said. Agency sources earlier said Mr Vadra was to be confronted with Manoj Arora’s e-mails and statement in the case.The money laundering case was initially filed against Manoj Arora, whose role was detected during the investigation in another case against Sanjay Bhandari, by the Income Tax Department, the Enforcement Directorate had told the court.

The agency alleged that a London-based property was bought by Sanjay Bhandari for 1.9 million pounds and sold in 2010 for the same amount, despite an additional expense of approximately 65,900 pounds for its renovation.”This gives credence to the fact that Bhandari was not the actual owner of the property but it was beneficially owned by Vadra, who was incurring expenditure on the renovation of this property,” the ED had told the court. Manoj Arora, sources said, was a key person in the case and he was aware of Mr Vadra’s overseas undeclared assets and was instrumental in arranging funds, the ED had alleged.

The questioning of Mr Vadra, coming days after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra entered active politics, has helped the BJP sharpen its attack on the Congress.Alleging that corruption has been the “core agenda” of the Congress party, BJP’s Sambit Patra said, “Everybody knows every member of the family is out on bail”.The High Court of Rajasthan has ordered Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) along with his mother, Maureen Vadra, on February 12. (With Agency Inputs ).

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