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Investigative agencies to grill Vadra in more cases

Agency | February 10, 2019 11:24 AM

NEW DELHI: The troubles for Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who was grilled by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for three days in connection with a money laundering case, may not end any time soon as the probe agencies are again set to question him in the coming days in different cases involving his company Skylight Hospitality.

The ED, which questioned Vadra for the first time for three days in connection with a money laundering case, plans to interrogate him again on February 12 in Jaipur in another money-laundering case related to a land scam in Rajasthan's Bikaner, sources said.

Vadra and his mother, Maureen Vadra, have been asked by the Rajasthan High Court to appear before the ED on February 12 to respond to allegations of money laundering by his firm.

The ED had for the third time, issued summons to Robert Vadra and his mother, a partner in the firm last November but none of them appeared and instead moved the high court seeking a "no coercive action" order and stay of their arrest. The Rajasthan High Court has directed him to cooperate with the agency in the case.

The agency had registered a money laundering case in September 2015 alleging that Skylight Hospitality had acquired land in Kolayat village of Bikaner, which was meant for rehabilitation of poor villagers. It was alleged that Vadra bought 69.55 hectares of land at a cheaper rate and sold it to Allegheny Finlease for Rs 5.15 crore through illegal transactions.

During investigations, the agency claimed to have found Allengenery had no real business dealings and the shareholders were also found to be fake.

Earlier, the CBI had also filed 18 cases at the instance of the Rajasthan government in August 2017 in connection with the Bikaner land deal case.

Of the 18, four cases have been registered against Skylight Hospitality.

According to ED sources, Vadra will also be called for questioning in a money laundering case relating to a land deak in Gurugram's Shikohpur village after it registers a fresh case in the coming days.

On January 23, the CBI had filed a case against former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and several others, including 15 private builders, for alleged irregularities in allotting over 1,417 acres of land during 2009-12 in Gurugram.

The Haryana Police on September 2 last year has also registered a case against Vadra and Hooda for alleged irregularities in land deals in Gurugram. Vadra faces allegations that his company sold 3.5 acres of land in 2008 in Shikohpur village to DLF at a rate much higher than was prevailing at the time.

The ED has also grilled Vadra for in a money laundering case against his close aide Manoj Arora, whose role surfaced during a probe by the Income Tax Department into another case under against absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

The London property was allegedly bought by Bhandari and sold in 2010 for the same amount despite incurring additional expenses on its renovation.

The ED says it has received information about various new properties in London which belong to Vadra. These include two houses, one worth 5 million pounds and the other valued at 4 million pounds and six flats. The total worth of these properties is 12 million pounds.

The ED also grilled Vadra about the emails he exchanged with Sumit Chadha, a relative of Bhandari, in reference to a London property. Vadra was also asked how he knew Bhandari and Chadha and what business transactions they had.

According to sources, Vadra was confronted with the emails he had reportedly exchanged with Chadha for the payment of the renovation of a London property, about which the agency informed a Delhi court.

The ED also told the court that the London property was part of the kickbacks received in a petroleum deal.

According to the ED, Vadra and his associates received 'kickbacks' in the petroleum deal signed in 2009 during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

The ED claimed that money was allegedly transferred to Santech International, FZC, a company based in UAE and controlled by Bhandari. Santech International then purchased the 12 Bryanstone Square mansion from Vortex, a private holding, and Vortex shares were later transferred to Skylight Investment, FZE, which is led by NRI businessman C Thampi. 

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