In a major development in the money laundering investigation allegations against Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s brother in law Robert Vadra, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a Delhi Court on Saturday that Vadra is the virtual owner of a £ 1.9 million flat at 12, Bryanston Square in London. According to a report by the Times of India, the ED made the revelations in the court while seeking to secure an open-ended non-bailable warrant under Black Money Act against Vadra’s close aide Manoj Arora.
As per the report, the ED made these allegations in a special court of judge Arvind Kumar, claiming that the property in London was purchased using money laundered through Dubai and in violation of the Black Money Act. The ED said that Arora was crucial to the transaction and therefore, a key witness.
As per the ED, Vadra was beneficially controlling the £ 1.9 million London property. Vadra had also allegedly executed renovation work for the same and arranged for funds. Absconding defence dealer Sanjay Bhandari, Vadra’s aide, allegedly purchased the property for £ 1.9 million and sold it to a Vadra-controlled firm for the same amount after allegedly spending £ 65,900 on renovating it. The ED maintained that Bhandari was not the actual owner of the property, but it was beneficially owned by Vadra.
In December last year, while carrying out an investigation against middlemen and lobbyists in arms deals, a lookout circular was issued against Arora, Vadra’s Executive Assistant. He is being probed in the case against arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, who is a close associate of Vadra.
On December 8, The ED had questioned Manoj Arora along with several other persons connected to the case, which included Congress worker and another close aide of Robert Vadra, Jagdish Sharma. ED had raided several places connected to Vadra as part of the investigations. Few other employees working for Vadra were also questioned by ED.
The case against Sanjay Bhandari goes back to 2016 when during a raid by Income Tax department, confidential defence ministry documents were found in his possession. He had several documents related to meetings and decisions of Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). During further probe, email exchanges between Bhandari and Vadra were recovered.
One mail trail recovered from Bhandari’s computer was an exchange between Sanjay Bhandari, Robert Vadra and Manoj Arora. The mail conversations were regarding payments and renovations of the London house. According to official records, a UAE based company had bought the property for around ₹19 crore.
The emails were sent to Sumit Chadda, a relative of Sanjay Bhandari’s based in London. In one of the emails, Sumit Chadda had reported the progress of repair and renovation work done in the house to Robert Vadra and asked for payment for the expenses. In reply, Vadra wrote that he will look into the issue and his “secretary Manoj” will be in touch for follow up. After that, Manoj had exchanged emails with Sumit regarding the matter. This email communications clearly indicated that Vadra is the real owner of the London property.
Sanjay Bhandari is wanted by Indian authorities under several cases, who at present lives in London.