Robert Vadra to appear before ED for second round of questioning
07 February 2019
Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, will appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in New Delhi today, for a second round of questioning, after he was grilled by investigating officials for over five-and-a half hours on Wednesday.
Days after he was directed by a city court to appear before the central probe agency, Vadra's wife Priyanka Gandhi yesterday dropped him outside the ED's office in Jamnagar House where he was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate over its money laundering probe into alleged possession of illegal foreign assets.
Vadra entered the ED office at around 3:47 pm, minutes after a team of his lawyers reached the premises. He then signed the attendance register before being taken in for questioning.
During questioning, Vadra denied possessing illegal foreign assets and termed the charges as political witch hunt against him. He has alleged he was being "hounded and harassed" to subserve political ends.
Ahead of the questioning by a team of three ED officials, official sources said Vadra was put through a dozen questions on transactions, purchase and possession of certain immovable assets in London and his statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Vadra, however, was alone when he left the ED’s office at about 9:40 PM in the same car in which Priyanka had dropped him. His lawyer said Vadra has fully cooperated with the agency, adding that all charges leveled against him are wrong.
"All charges against him are wrong. We will cooperate with the agency 100 per cent. He will come whenever he is called," Suman Jyoti Khaitan, his lawyer told the mediapersons.
It is for the first time that Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, is appearing before any probe agency in connection with alleged criminal charges of dubious financial dealings.
Vadra decided to appear before the ED after a Delhi court on 2 February, directed him to cooperate with the probe being carried out by the agency after he sought anticipatory bail in the money laundering case. The court directed him to appear before ED on Wednesday on his return from London.
Reports said Vadra was also grilled about his links with absconding and controversial defence dealer Sanjay Bhandari and Bhandari's relative Sumit Chhadha in connection with certain emails recovered by agencies linked to the renovation of a London-based property.
The ED case against Vadra relates to alleged money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property located at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million GBP (British pounds).
The agency had also claimed to have information about various other properties owned by Vadra in London, including two houses of five and four million each, six other flats and more properties.
The ED had also grilled Vadra’s aide Manoj Arora, an employee of Skylight Hospitality LLP, a firm linked to Vadra, in the case in December last year.
The agency had also filed a PMLA case against Arora after his role cropped up during the probe of another case by the Income Tax Department under the 2015 anti-blackmoney legislation against absconding Bhandari.
It had alleged that the London-based property was bought by Bhandari for 1.9 million GBP and sold in 2010 for the same amount despite incurring additional expenses of approximately 65,900 GBP on its renovation.
"This gives credence to the fact that Bhandari was not the actual owner of the property but it was beneficially owned by Vadra who was incurring expenditure on the renovation of this property," the ED had claimed before the court.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi claimed the charges against Vadra are "fickle, superficial, non-existent, non-substantive". The BJP had full four and a half years to investigate but could not find anything, he claimed at a news conference.
The attempt is to mislead, confuse and to create and ambience before election, but people see through this, he said.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, however, alleged at a news conference that Vadra bought 8 to 9 properties in London from the money he got as kickbacks from petroleum and defence deals, which took place in 2008-09.