Days after the BJP's emphatic victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has again summoned businessman Robert Vadra, the husband of Congress leader Priyanka Vadra, to appear before it on Thursday. The summon has been issued in a money laundering case involving the purchase of several properties in London, and over his association with arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. Vadra has been asked to appear before the agency office in New Delhi around 10.30 AM.
Before this, the ED had moved the Delhi High Court seeking the cancellation of Vadra's anticipatory bail given by the lower court. The ED cited he was not co-operating with the investigation into the case. The agency, which had grilled Vadra over a dozen times in this case, sought a custodial interrogation of Vadra, for which he needs to be arrested. The next HC hearing in the case is scheduled on July 17. The HC has, meanwhile, asked Vadra and his close associate Manoj Arora to file their response against the ED plea.
As per India Today, the Income Tax Department probe had earlier established links between him and Sanjay Bhandari, who was grilled in 2016 about Vadra's France trip in the year 2012. The I-T Department had asked him about Vadra's flight ticket details. The document says Bhandari accepted that he booked a flight ticket for Vadra on his instruction, but he didn't remember who actually paid for it. Though Vadra has denied any involvement with Bhandari, the probe agencies had confronted him with this documentary evidence last year.
As per the ED, Bhandari was given kickbacks in a petroleum deal in 2009 and a defence deal in 2010, and the money was used to buy several properties in London. As per the ED, Vadra allegedly laundered money and bought a London-based property located at 12, Bryanston Square worth GBP 1.9 million (British pounds). The agency had told a Delhi court that it received information about various new properties in London which belonged to Vadra. These include two houses, one worth 5 million GBP and the other valued at 4 million GBP, six other flats and more properties. Vadra has denied the allegations of possessing illegal foreign assets and termed them a political witch hunt against him. He said he was being "hounded and harassed" to subserve political ends.
Manoj Sharma with agency inputs