The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a fresh money laundering case against the firm, Skylight Hospitality, linked to Congress’ Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, Robert Vadra in connection with financial and other irregularities in land deals in Haryana’s Gurgaon in 2008.
The ED’s case has been registered under the under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The new case registered, according to sources is a criminal FIR, known as enforcement case information report in official parlance.
These new charges were on the basis of an FIR, under sections 420(cheating), 120(hatching conspiracy), 467,468 and 471(forgery) of the IPC, filed by Haryana police in September last year.
A resident of Gurugram named Surendra Sharma of the Rathiwas village had filed an FIR against Robert Vadra, Bhupinder Hooda and others in September 2018, alleging that Vadra’s firm Skylight Hospitality had bought 3.5 acres of land in Shikohpur village (Now Sector 83) in Gurugram from one Omkareswar Property for 7.5 crores in 2008. The FIR had alleged that massive irregularities had happened in the deal and Hooda had favoured Vadra costing the exchequer huge losses.
After procuring a development licence with the influence of Hooda, Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality sold this land to DLF at a price of Rs 58 crore, thus making a profit of Rs 50 crore, which Robert Vadra has been denying.
In return, the state government under Bhupinder Hooda, who also held the portfolio of town planning and county planning ministry, allegedly allotted 350 acres of land to DLF at Wazirabad in Gurgaon in violation of rules, the police had claimed. In the alleged quid pro quo, DLF made Rs 5000 crore, it had said.
This fresh case against Robert Vadra and his associates, follow searches conducted by ED in December last year in connection with its probe into alleged “commissions received by some suspects in defence deals” and illegal assets stashed abroad.
While conducting the raids, ED had told media that the persons being raided had received money in their bank accounts from defence suppliers.
It was alleged that Robert Vadra has close links with arms dealers. One of his close associates, Sanjay Bhandari had tried to partner with Dassault Aviation. But Dassault had refused his offer after learning about Bhandari’s association with Vadra.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had earlier moved a Delhi court on January 5 seeking issuance of an open-ended non-bailable warrant against Robert Vadra’s executive assistant, Manoj Arora, who was allegedly the middlemen and lobbyists in this arms deals.
In the process of procuring an open-ended non-bailable warrant against Arora, the ED had also established in the Delhi High court, that Vadra was the virtual owner of a £ 1.9 million flat at 12, Bryanston Square in London.
Apart from these two cases, Robert Vadra is also accused in another land money laundering case related to a land deal in Bikaner, Rajasthan. It is alleged that Vadra had “fraudulently” acquiring land in Bikaner meant for rehabilitation of poor villagers through his company Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd.
ED had sent three summons to Vadra to appear before them, in Bikaner land deal money laundering case but he had ignored all the three summons, calling it a ‘political witch-hunt’ maintaining that the investigation agencies have an agenda to tarnish his reputation.
In yet another case, Hooda and 33 others were charge-sheeted by the CBI in February last year, in the 1500 crore Manesar land deal case.
The predicaments seem to be mounting for the Congress’ son-in-law and it would be interesting to see, for how long does this dynasty entitlement help him to escape the clamps of the Indian judicial system.