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Robert Vadra linked to London property under money laundering probe

Vadra, the husband of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, has been questioned by the ED in the past and he has denied wrongdoing

Robert Vadra (C), Indian businessman and husband of Indian politician Priyanka Gandhi (unseen), gestures as he arrives at the Directorate of Enforcement for questioning in a money laundering probe over the alleged possession of illegal foreign assets, in New Delhi on May 30, 2019 (Photo credit MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of former Congress president, Sonia Gandhi was accused by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday (26), of renovating and staying in a London property that is considered as “proceeds of crime” in a money laundering case involving alleged middleman Sanjay Bhandari.

Bhandari fled to the UK in 2016 and the British government approved his extradition to India in January this year acting on the legal request made by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The two federal agencies are probing charges of money laundering and tax evasion against the businessman for holding alleged undisclosed assets abroad.

This is the first time that the federal agency has named Vadra in this case.

The ED issued a statement stating that it has filed a fresh charge sheet in this case against C C or Cheruvathur Chakutty Thampi, a UAE-based NRI businessman, and UK national Sumit Chadha.

Thampi was arrested in this case in January 2020 and the ED alleged he was a “close associate” of Vadra. Thampi is currently out on bail.

“Sanjay Bhandari held various undisclosed foreign income and assets including the following properties at no 12 Bryanston Square, London and 6 Grosvenor Hill Court, London.

“These assets are proceeds of crime as per the provisions of the PMLA and C C Thampi and Sumit Chadha have been found to be involved in the concealment and use of these proceeds of crime,” the ED charged.

The probe found, it said, that Thampi “is a close associate of Mr Robert Vadra”.

“Mr Robert Vadra not only renovated the aforesaid property at 12 Bryanston Square, London through Sumit Chadha but also stayed in the same. “Mr Robert Vadra as well as C C Thampi purchased a huge chunk of land at Faridabad (near Delhi) and had financial transactions with each other,” the ED claimed.

Vadra, the husband of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, has been questioned by the ED in the past and he has denied wrongdoing.

The ED said the Delhi court took cognisance of the supplementary prosecution complaint, filed under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in November, on December 22.

Official sources said that the court also issued summons to Thampi and Chadha after taking cognisance of the charge sheet.

It also issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Chadha who has not joined the probe till now despite ED issuing summons to him.

Bhandari’s niece – Puja Chadha – is married to Sumit Chadha, a UK national.

The ED filed the criminal case of money laundering against Bhandari and others in February 2017 taking cognisance of an Income Tax Department charge sheet filed against him under the anti-black money law of 2015.

The ED told the court in its supplementary charge sheet that Chadha “assisted Sanjay Bhandari in concealment, acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of crime and management/ maintenance of properties beneficially owned by accused Sanjay Bhandari.”

“He (Chadha) had various transactions with accused Sanjay Bhandari and his associates. He has been found actively involved in concealing the proceeds of crime,” the ED said in the chargesheet.

The court has now listed the matter to be heard on January 29 next year.

(PTI)

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