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Rahul Gandhi’s lucrative and seemingly clandestine means of income and his links to scam accused FTIL, Unitech

Rahul Gandhi's assets per his election affidavits went up from Rs 55,38,123 in 2004, to over Rs. 2 crores in 2009 and finally, over Rs 9 crores in 2014. 

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

Only recently, OpIndia broke the story about Rahul Gandhi and his dubious land deal with one HL Pahwa in 2008, that connects Rahul straight to arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. The land that was brought by Rahul Gandhi was purchased at a measly price of Rs. 26,47,000. This land purchase was mentioned in his election affidavit of 2009. HL Pahwa himself has several dubious connections. Robert Vadra and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had also purchased land from HL Pahwa and then sold it back to Pahwa himself at a much-inflated price. To make good on these payments, Pahwa took money from one CC Thampi who is in turn inextricably linked the arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and Robert Vadra.

Congress’ response to Rahul Gandhi’s own links with arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari coming to the fore was weak and rhetorical. They accepted that such a land deal took place, however, refused to comment on his links with arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

After this story was broken and especially, after Congress’ weak response to it, one began to wonder where Rahul Gandhi makes his money from. Gandhi’s assets have grown exponentially in the past few years if one compares his election affidavits from the year 2004, 2009 and 2014.

Rahul Gandhi’s assets per his election affidavits went up from Rs 55,38,123 in 2004, to over Rs. 2 crores in 2009 and finally, over Rs 9 crores in 2014. It must also be remembered here that in 2011-12, there are allegations that Rahul Gandhi had escaped incomes of Rs. 155 crores through AJL for which, the IT department has slapped a Rs. 100 crores tax notice on Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. 

With such astronomical increase, one is bound to wonder what Rahul Gandhi source of income is, considering, the only legitimate income according to his public record is that of the salary drawn by him as Member of Parliament, and that interest he earns of his deposits.

While disclosing one’s source of income is not asked for in the affidavits, Rahul Gandhi was neither a professional before getting into politics nor has any declared interests in any legitimate business.

We tried to dig into and piece together what Rahul’s source of income might be.

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi rent farmhouse to scam accused FTIL

In 2013, Rahul Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka, rented their 4.69 acre farmhouse in Delhi to Financial Technologies (India) Ltd. (FTIL), merely 10 months after a show cause notice was served to National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL), a company promoted by FTIL, for alleged norm violations.

As per an Indian Express report, FTIL had signed an 11-month lease agreement to rent Indira Gandhi Farm House in Mehrauli at a monthly rent of Rs 6.7 lakh. FTIL also paid an interest-free deposit of Rs 40.20 lakh vide two separate cheques of Rs 20.10 lakh each respectively to Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi.

Indian Express also reported that it had sent a questionnaire to the Congress party to which Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had responded. “Indira Gandhi Farm was rented out for 8 months and 22 days i.e. 1 February 2013 to 22nd October 2013 to FTIL. The entire rent received from the tenancy was disclosed in the income tax returns and income tax was paid in accordance with the law. During the period of tenancy, one Mrs. & Mr Khairnar occupied the property,” Surjewala had said. Surjewala further denied that there was any intervention made on behalf of Jignesh Shah or FTIL by anyone in the Nehru-Gandhi family in any proceedings against them.

The NSEL scam had broken out into the public domain in July 2013. The NSEL was India’s first electronic spot exchange that was established with the purpose of serving as a single market for both manufactured and agricultural products across the country. It started operating in 2008.

After a Department of Corporate Affairs (DCA) order, the NSEL was forced to halt trading of all contracts in July 2013. Eventually, 24 trading entities defaulted on their payment to the spot exchange, which amounted to around Rs.5,600 crores.

In March 2018, the Mumbai headquarters of the FTIL was raided by the CBI. The offices and residences of Jignesh Shah were also raided along with the residences of top executives Shrikant Javelgekar and Joseph Massey.

While the NSEL scam broke out in June 2013, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra rented their farmhouse to FTIL from January 2013 to October 2013. This goes to show that while the multi-crore scam broke out, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi were profiting from FTIL. In fact, The Congress government had exempted the NSEL from complying with the provisions of the Forwards Contracts Regulations Act through a notification dated June 5, 2007. Later, it was discovered that the NSEL traded in contracts which were in violation of the conditions under which it was granted the exemption.

The question of impropriety arises from the fact that while a multi-crore scam was perpetuated because the then Congress government gave concessions to the firm, Rahul Gandhi, who now wishes to lead the nation, was profiting from the scam accused by earning rent every month.

Other rentals of the farmhouse

After OpIndia published the last report about Rahul Gandhi’s financial dealings with HL Pahwa and his connection to Sanjay Bhandari, we received information that Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also earned astronomical rents by renting the farmhouse to another Industrial house. Together, they allegedly earned over Rs. 3 crores starting from the financial years 2007-08 right up to Financial years 2012-13 by renting this farmhouse to this industrial house. It was after this, that the farmhouse was rented to FTIL started February 2013.

Interestingly, the value of the property that was being rented, the Indira Farmhouse, was listed as a little over 9 lacs in Rahul Gandhi’s election affidavit. Thus, the question that is unanswered at this point is how were Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra earning rent that was 4 to 9 times the value of the property. Further, it is alleged that this Industrial house never took possession of the farmhouse at all though the rent was transferred to Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi.

Property bought from Unitech Ltd, accused in the 2G scam

In an Indian Express report, it was reported that Rahul Gandhi purchased two commercial properties in October 2010. One was worth Rs. 1.44 crores and the other Rs. 5.36 crores. The two properties were located at Gurugram’s Signatures Towers-II which were owned by Unitech.

According to information given to OpIndia by a whistleblower, it is alleged that the agreement to sell had disclosed the value of the property at 1.4 crores and 5.36 crores and only advance payment of a little over 4 crores by Rahul Gandhi was reflected. Allegedly, documentary proof if the rest of the payment doesn’t appear available.

Allegedly, Rahul Gandhi also received interest income during Financial Year 2010-11 to Financial Year 2014-15 on the deposit with Unitech Ltd.

This transaction is rather interesting. While Rahul Gandhi had allegedly paid somewhere around Rs 4 crores (for properties that were valued at far more), he was also receiving interest income from 2010 to 2014-15 on the deposit with Unitech. What is unclear here is whether the Rs 4 crores was paid as advance for the two properties or as an interest-earning deposit? And if indeed it was as an interest-earning deposit, then what was the advance or payment for the two properties purchased by Rahul Gandhi?

Unitech is infamous for its involvement in the 2G scam. In early 2008, Unitech Wireless, a subsidiary of Unitech, was granted a pan-India telecom license by the government for Rs. 1,658 crore under the infamous first-come, first-serve policy. Subsequently, it sold 67% of its shares to Telenor of Norway for Rs 6,120 crore. This placed the value of the company at Rs. 9,100 crores. The stake sale happened when the company had no other asset, therefore, it was only fair to assume that it was the value of the license it held.

Then, the CAG report blew the lid off the scam. It said that the inexpensive spectrum sale caused a loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore to the government exchequer while benefiting private entities like Unitech. It was further alleged that rules and guidelines were violated in the process which suggested a collusion between those who got the licenses and those who received it.

Interestingly enough, in his 2009 election affidavit which was filed sometime in April that year, Rahul Gandhi had declared his assets worth to be somewhere around 2 crore rupees. Therefore, within the span of 18 months, Rahul Gandhi acquired the means to buy properties worth Rs. 6.80 crores. Furthermore, in his 2014 election manifesto, his worth had risen to 9 crores.

In his 2014 affidavit, Rahul Gandhi discloses that he had made an advance to purchase property to the tune of Rs. 6,89,14,673. In his previous affidavit of 2009 which was filed in April 2008, his total assets were Rs. 2,32,74,706. Considering the property was purchased in 2018, it is interesting that within the span of 18 months, Rahul Gandhi acquired the means to buy properties worth Rs. 6.80 crores.

This, when according to a Times Now report, in 2010-11, Rahul Gandhi had declared his income from properties as Rs. 68L. This begs the question of where he got Rs 6 crores within 18 months to purchase property?

The timeline of the entire series of events is also interesting. In October 2009, the CBI registered a case into the alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum. On October 8, 2010, the Supreme Court sought the then UPA government’s response to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s or CAG report on the alleged scam. In October, the same year, Rahul Gandhi purchased two commercial properties at Gurugram’s Signatures Towers-II owned by Unitech. Needless to say, this property doesn’t find a mention in his 2014 affidavit. Intriguingly, several of such deals struck with dubious, scam-ridden individuals is strategically struck to avoid the hint of it appearing in his election affidavits which is for public consumption.

What is even more interesting, is that in 2017, Judge OP Saini had noted that for the past 7 years, he had been waiting every 7 days for the government to come up with some evidence in the 2G scam, but nothing was submitted. A major part of those 7 years, there was a Congress government in power. 

One wonders then, why the Congress government refused to submit any proof of the 2G scam to the court, while Rahul Gandhi was conducting business with the very people who were involved in the scam. This certainly does raise questions of impropriety and Rahul Gandhi out to answer why he was conducting business, the deal which in itself is shrouded in mystery, while his government was investigating Unitech for a scam? 

After the scam broke into the media, numerous politicians and bureaucrats and businessmen were taken into custody following national outrage. Unitech Managing Director Sanjay Chandra was one of them. He got out of prison in 2012, a year after he went in.

Backops and Rahul Gandhi’s stakes

One of Rahul Gandhi’s many financial interests was one he had in the United Kingdoms. In an affidavit filed for the Lok Sabha Elections in 2004, Rahul Gandhi mentions a property he owned of Backops Limited and three of its European accounts, two of which were with HSBC-UK. The firm was reportedly dissolved in 2009.

This is the same firm in the annual return of which Rahul Gandhi was listed as a British citizen. It was also alleged that Rahul Gandhi was the Director and Secretary of UK based company.

According to the affidavit, the Congress President also owned 83% in Backops Services. It was registered at the Registrar of Companies, New Delhi. According to a Data Services website, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rahul’s sister, was one of the directors in the firm. The firm last filed its balance sheet on the 31st of March, 2010. Intriguingly, although the firm is mentioned in his 2004 affidavit, it doesn’t find any mention in his 2009 election affidavit. Therefore, the question arises, what happened to the 83% stake that Rahul Gandhi had in the firm?

Even more intriguingly, a Rediff report from June 2004 mentions that the Backops Services was established in May 2002 with one family friend Manoj Muttu and Rahul Gandhi as Directors. It was only on the 25th of March, 2009, merely days before filing his affidavit for the 2009 General Elections that Priyanka Gandhi was appointed as the Director of the firm and Rahul Gandhi ceased to be one.

Therefore, it also emerges that while Backops Private based in U.K. was dissolved in 2009, Backops Services continued to exist in India until the 31st of March, 2010 at the very least with Priyanka Gandhi being instated as the Director in the firm merely days before Rahul Gandhi filed his affidavit for the 2009 Elections.

Also, in the Rediff report from June 2004, it was reported that the firm had an authorised share capital of Rs 25 lakh divided into 25,000 equity shares of Rs 100 each. and Gandhi was the largest shareholder with 2,500 shares. But in his 2004 election affidavit just a couple of months earlier, Gandhi mentions that he had an 83% share in the firm. Therefore, what happened to the rest of the 73% shares he owned in the space of a couple of months? If he sold his shares, then why isn’t any of it mentioned in the 2009 election affidavit?

Questions that Rahul Gandhi must answer

1. How did Rahul Gandhi’s assets from a mere 55 lakh to 9 crores between 2004 and 2014 considering his only legitimate income is that of MP’s salary and he was never a professional in his own right outside of politics?

2. Why did Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi rent their farmhouse to FTIL, merely 10 months after a show cause notice was served to National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL), a company promoted by FTIL, for alleged norm violations? Since the Congress government gave many concessions to FTIL helping the scam being perpetrated, did Rahul Gandhi and his family know the scam accused? If they did, what was the nature of their association?

3. The farmhouse was rented to FTIL while the investigations were ongoing. There are several allegations that the Congress government went slow in prosecuting the NSEL scam accused. Was the business transaction between Rahul Gandhi and FTIL one of the reasons?

4. Before FTIL, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi had rented their farmhouse to another Industrial house. How did Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi earn rent from a farmhouse valued at 9 lakh which was 4 to 9 times the value of the farmhouse? Does this point towards crony capitalism?

5. When Rahul Gandhi bought two properties from Unitech Ltd, one was worth Rs. 1.44 crores and the other Rs. 5.36 crores. The two properties were located at Gurugram’s Signatures Towers-II which were owned by Unitech, did he make good on his entire payment? If not, and if it true that only about Rs. 4 crores have been paid, why was the rest of the money not paid?

6. Unitech was deeply involved in the 2G scam. In October 2009, the CBI registered a case into the alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum. On October 8, 2010, the Supreme Court sought the then UPA government’s response to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s or CAG report on the alleged scam. In October, the same year, Rahul Gandhi purchased two commercial properties at Gurugram’s Signatures Towers-II owned by Unitech. Why was property bought from Unitech Ltd days after the SC had sought a response from the Congress government on the CAG report on 2G scam?

7. The SC had said in 2017, that he had waited for 7 years for any evidence to be presented in the 2G case but the government never complied. A majority of that time was under the Congress government. Was there a quid-pro-quo arrangement as far as Unitech is concerned?

7. The 2G scam and the FTIL scam was carried out during the Congress government’s regime. All the deals between Rahul Gandhi and the scam accused also happened during the Congress regime when the investigations were already on. In fact, the deals happened while allegations of Congress government going slow in these investigations were at its peak. Rahul Gandhi should explain this potential impropriety.

8. Backops Private based in U.K. was dissolved in 2009, Backops Services continued to exist in India until the 31st of March, 2010 at the very least with Priyanka Gandhi being instated as the Director in the firm merely days before Rahul Gandhi filed his affidavit for the 2009 Elections. Why? What happened to the 83% shares owned by Rahul Gandhi?

9. In the 2004 election affidavit, Rahul Gandhi declared his total assets to be Rs. 55,38,123. He also had NIL liabilities. In 2009, Rahul Gandhi purchased 2 shops in Metropolitan Mall Saket, Delhi, for Rs. 1,63,95,111. Where did the money come from? What was his source of income?

10. Rahul Gandhi showed Rs 68 lakh as income from house properties in 2011-12. According to an estimate of the going rate, the rent for those shops would be somewhere around Rs. 150 per square feet. The properties that Rahul Gandhi owned were 514 square feet and 996 square feet. Simple math would dictate that from those two properties, Rahul could not have earned a rent of Rs. 68 lakhs. Where did the rest of the money come from considering these were the only two properties listed in his 2009 affidavit.

11. After the OpIndia expose, Congress had admitted that Rahul Gandhi bought land from HL Pahwa. However, they had said that the land was then gifted to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Priyanka also has several land deals to her credit with HL Pahwa who sells and then buys the same land back at an inflated price. Even Backops Directorship, was at that time, transferred to Priyanka Gandhi. Is Priyanka Gandhi Vadra not fighting elections in 2019 because the Election Affidavit would open a can of worms?

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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