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Monday 27 January 2020

Robert Vadra pleads he’s unwell after being grilled by ED for 3 hours

The beleaguered businessman told the investigating officer (IO) of the case that he was not well and hence, the recording of his statement was discontinued, the officials said

New Delhi: Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for about three hours on Wednesday in connection with a money-laundering case, officials said, after which he excused himself by pleading that he was not feeling well. The questioners allowed him to leave after consultation with senior ED officers.

The beleaguered businessman told the investigating officer (IO) of the case that he was not well and hence, the recording of his statement was discontinued, the officials said.

Vadra had reached the agency’s office at Jamnagar House in central Delhi at around 10:30 AM along with his lawyers and left after about three hours of questioning, they added. They added that Vadra was expected to join the probe again on Friday.

On Wednesday, it was a scheduled appearance of Vadra before the ED in a criminal complaint related to allegations of money laundering to purchase assets abroad, the officials said.

A group of Vadra’s supporters raised slogans in his favour outside the ED office, before being dispersed by the police.

Vadra had skipped the summons on Tuesday, citing bad health. He was questioned by the ED sleuths in connection with the case for 23 hours over three days of deposition earlier this month.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra’s husband has been asked by a Delhi court to cooperate in the probe being conducted by the central probe agency.

The ED case against Vadra relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of, primarily, a London-based property, located at 12, Bryanston Square, and worth £ 1.9 million, which is allegedly owned by the businessman in a benami way.

The agency had told the court that it had received information about various new properties in London that belonged to Vadra. These include two houses — one worth £ 5 million and the other valued at £ 4 million — six flats and other assets.

Vadra cries foul

Vadra has denied the allegation of possessing illegal foreign assets and termed it a political witch-hunt against him. He said he is being “hounded and harassed” to serve political ends.
The statement of the businessman is being recorded under section 50 (powers of authorities regarding summons, production of documents and to give evidence) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Vadra’s first appearance before the ED earlier this month acquired political overtones after his wife Priyanka accompanied him to the investigating agency’s office and picked him up after questioning another time.

Vadra had deposed before the ED twice in Jaipur in connection with another money-laundering case related to an alleged land scam in Bikaner. His mother Maureen too was questioned by the agency once during the same deposition.

Awkward evidence against Vadra

In the meantime, a section of the media has disclosed an email exchange between Vadra’s employees and arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari who is being investigated by the ED, too.
Vadra allegedly made Manoj Arora, his employee, write to Bhandari. The email has Arora discussing some repair work of one of Vadra’s suspected homes in London.

The ED suspects these properties are proceeds from kickbacks from a petroleum deal. A couple of fictitious companies channelled the deal that allegedly helped Vadra buy the house at London’s Bryanston Square via Sanjay Bhandari, the head of one of the companies.

The house was bought for £ 1.9 million pounds and sold in 2010 for the same amount. Strangely, the seller did not care to recover the additional expense of approximately £ 65,900 for renovation.

Investigators say Vadra directly or indirectly owns nine London-based properties worth several million pounds.

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