Wednesday, April 21, 2021

ED confronts Vadra with voluminous statements, documents in money laundering case


The ED Tuesday confronted Robert Vadra with multiple statements of people reportedly known to him and voluminous paper evidence gathered over the time, as he appeared before it in connection with a money laundering case linked to purchase of alleged illegal assets abroad, officials said.

Vadra (50), the brother-in-law of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, arrived at the agency’s office near India Gate around 10:45 am along with his lawyers. His grilling went on for over five hours.

Official sources said the investigating officer (IO) of the case put across to him at least half-a-dozen statements of his alleged aides which form a purported “link” between him, absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, Bhandari’s associates and others.

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It is understood that Vadra either denied or claimed ignorance of having any dealing or connections with Bhandari or others as his statement was recorded by the IO under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The section talks about “powers of authorities regarding summons, production of documents and to give evidence”.

The officials said the businessman, husband of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, was also shown a number of e-mails, banking and financial papers that are purportedly linked to him as part of the money laundering probe.

Property documents pertaining to at least four alleged illegal assets were presented to Vadra before his statement was recorded.

The businessman, before deposing before the agency, issued a statement on social media saying he was being subjected to “sensation and unnecessary drama”.

He said he was undertaking the questioning exercise before the federal anti-money laundering agency for the 13th time “post almost 80 hours… answering any number of questions, amidst sensation and unnecessary drama around, I stay focused and calm”.

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Vadra added that “blatantly and carelessly airing my health matters is not correct… but my time spent with people with worst problems, ailing, blind and orphaned kids to see them still smile, gives me the strength to go on”.

“My life is unique and I have fought for almost a decade over baseless accusations. Physically situations can change, but one’s honest mind cannot. I am determined on the truth and it is a book in the making, for the world to read and know clearly, my side…,” he said.

Vadra, during questioning, is also understood to have denied having any acquaintance with Sumit Chadha (Bhandari’s family member) and NRI businessman C C Thampi.

He is understood to have told the IO that he had no “business or personal links” with these people, who are “actively” being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the case.

Thampi has reportedly told the ED that the London-based asset under the scanner for PMLA charges was visited by Vadra, a charge denied by the businessman during the latest session of grilling.

These details were also furnished by the ED to the court when it opposed Vadra’s anticipatory bail and prayed for his custodial interrogation.

These questions were reiterated with new facts and evidence during the latest questioning, they said.

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A Delhi court on Monday allowed Vadra to travel abroad for six weeks for a checkup and obtain a second medical opinion on an ailment he is suffering from.

Vadra has appeared before the ED multiple times in connection with the case as also in another criminal money laundering case related to alleged irregularities of land allotment in Rajasthan’s Bikaner district.

In this case, the businessman appeared for the 11th time on Tuesday while in the Bikaner case, he has deposed twice before the ED at its Jaipur office.

The ED case against Vadra relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million GBP (British pounds), which is allegedly owned by him.

The agency had told a Delhi court that it has received information about various new properties in London which belong to Vadra. These include two houses–one worth 5 million GBP and the other valued at 4 million GBP, six other flats and more properties.

The agency, meanwhile, appointed a new IO for the case as the incumbent Rajiv Sharma is set to be promoted.


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