Robert Vadra questioned for 'links' to arms dealer, London properties
On Wednesday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned businessman Robert Vadra for over five hours in connection with an alleged money laundering case related to properties in the UK. Notably, the questioning session marked Vadra's first appearance in person in front of any central probe agency. Further, Vadra is slated to be questioned by the ED again on Thursday. Here's more.
Vadra reached the ED office at Jamnagar House in New Delhi in the afternoon, and was dropped off by his wife, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who then headed to the Congress headquarters - her new office. Commenting on the questioning session, Priyanka told reporters, "I stand by my family... everyone can see what is happening." The ED then questioned Vadra till 9.40pm.
The case pertains to properties in London that are allegedly linked to Vadra and had allegedly been purchased through Sanjay Bhandari, an absconding arms dealer. According to the ED, the matter dates back to a Petroleum Ministry deal back in 2009, in which alleged kick-backs flowed into a UK-based company, Syntak, that had Bhandari as its Director.
The ED claims that a property in Bryanston Square in London was bought by Bhandari from money that had flown into Syntak. Syntak had allegedly received $4.99mn after the Petroleum Ministry deal in June 2009, of which Bhandari used £1.9mn to buy the property. The ED alleged that this property was sold to Vadra in 2010 at the same price, despite renovations worth £65,000 on the property.
Given their suspicions about Vadra, the ED questioned the businessman about his association with and his financial transactions with Bhandari on Wednesday. Reportedly, Vadra was also shown documents by the ED which, the agency claims, connects him to several overseas properties. Vadra's lawyer, however, told reporters that Vadra was completely innocent, and would cooperate fully with the agency's probe.
"All charges against him are wrong. We will cooperate with the agency 100%," said Vadra's lawyer Sunil Khaitan.
Earlier on Saturday, the Patiala House court in Delhi had given anticipatory bail to Vadra in connection with this money laundering case, thereby granting him protection from arrest till February 16. However, senior advocate K T S Tulsi, representing Vadra, had told the court that the case was nothing except "political vendetta", and that the ED was a party to this vendetta.