In a massive breakthrough, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested NRI businessman CC Thampi, who is a close aide of Robert Vadra, Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s husband.
In February 2019, Robert Vadra was grilled for over 5 hours for his alleged links to CC Thampi. The Enforcement Directorate suspects kickbacks for a petroleum deal in 2009 were routed through the Sharjah-based company, allegedly controlled by a UAE-based NRI businessman, CC Thampi. Vadra was also questioned about owning Benami property in London along with CC Thampi and Sanjay Bhandari. Thampi has a company in UAE called Sky Light and in India, Skylight Hospitality Private Limited is allegedly linked to Vadra and is under the ED scanner for suspect land deals in Bikaner, Rajasthan.
CC Thampi is being probed by Indian authorities over violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act worth several hundreds of crores of rupees. ED had served him a show-cause notice last year for violation of laws in the acquisition of agricultural and other lands in and around Delhi-NCR in deals amounting to over Rs 288 crore. CC Thampi, Robert Vadra and Sanjay Bhandari are ‘close friends’.
It is in this regards that ED will be grilling CC Thampi post-arrest.
However, there is another angle that OpIndia had exclusively investigated back in March 2019. It is through CC Thampi that the links between Rahul Gandhi and the arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari had also emerged.
The fulcrum of the expose by OpIndia.com was a land deal between Rahul Gandhi and one HL Pahwa. Rahul Gandhi had bought land from Pahwa, who also regularly deals with Robert Vadra and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. As discovered by OpIndia, Robert Vadra and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had bought several lands from HL Pahwa only to later sell them back to Pahwa at a much-inflated price. At the time of this transaction, Enforcement Directorate files recovered during their raid on HL Pahwa has confirmed that Pahwa did not have the cash reserves for the high-value purchase of lands. To make good on that payment, HL Pahwa was financed by CC Thampi who has several financial transactions with arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. Sanjay Bhandari and CC Thampi are also inextricably linked to Robert Vadra through the Benami properties bought for Vadra by Thampi and Bhandari acting as the conduit.
OpIndia.com had released 3 property documents that linked Rahul Gandhi, Robert Vadra and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to HL Pahwa. After the initial expose, OpIndia had released two more property papers that linked the Vadra-Gandhi family to HL Pahwa who is inextricably linked to CC Thampi and Sanjay Bhandari.
The facts that had emerged from the OpIndia expose were these:
1. Rahul Gandhi purchased land from HL Pahwa at allegedly, a reduced price.
2. The land was also purchased from HL Pahwa by Robert Vadra and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. In several cases, the land was bought back by HL Pahwa at an inflated price even though his cash balance was negative.
3. To make good on the purchase, HL Pahwa took money from CC Thampi
4. CC Thampi and Sanjay Bhandari are close friends. As demonstrated, they had several financial transactions amongst themselves.
5. Sanjay Bhandari is an arms dealer and close friend of Robert Vadra. He had received kickbacks in Defence deal and in Petroleum deal.
6. It is through this kickback that Sanjay Bhandari purchased benami properties from Robert Vadra, even paid for the renovation.
7. The property was them sold to CC Thampi, and the proceeds syphoned off.
8. The ED is currently probing proximity of Robert Vadra with Thampi.
9. All of these deals happened during the Congress government.
10. Sanjay Bhandari is an armed dealer. From 2012 to 2015, Sanjay Bhandari was lobbying to become the offset partner in the Rafale deal and Dassault had refused to indulge him
11. File related to the purchase of 126 Rafale jets had gone missing from the defence ministry and it was later found on the road. It is alleged that Bhandari had stolen the file. It is alleged that Bhandari used to photocopy crucial files and passed on to defence contractors that he had links with.
12. Arun Jaitley had alleged that while Rafale was being finalised during the Congress government, there were backroom talks about the Eurofighter.
13. There are rumours that Rahul Gandhi had met Eurofighter representatives in Germany.
From these points, it is safe to draw the conclusion that Rahul Gandhi, just like Robert Vadra, is inextricably linked to Sanjay Bhandari, an arms dealer who is not only close to the Gandhi family but was also rebuked by Dassault in the Rafale deal. Sanjay Bhandari is also said to have received kickbacks in defence and petroleum deals during the Congress regime.
After the OpIndia expose, it was reported by India Today that ED was to question HL Pahwa about the dubious land deals he had with Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Robert Vadra. At that time, ED had summoned HL Pahwa as well as CC Thampi for questioning. While Pahwa had evaded the summons, Thampi had alleged that he is in the USA undergoing treatment.
With the nexus between CC Thampi, HL Pahwa, arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, Robert Vadra and the Gandhi duo Rahul and Priyanka becoming clearer and with the ED now arresting CC Thampi, the trouble could mount not only for Robert Vadra but also for Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017