Robert Vadra has denied owning multiple properties in London durig his interrogation with the Enforcement Directorate today. The brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi also denied any business ties with arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and his cousin Sumit Chaddha. Vadra is being grilled by the probe agency in relation to alleged kickbacks from a petroleum and defence deal during the UPA regime.
Vadra did acknowledge that he knows Manoj Arora, who he said is a former employee. He, however, maintained that Arora has never written any mail on his behalf. This is in relation to the e-mail trail between Vadra and Bhandari regarding refurbishing of a London property allegedly owned by the former.
Earlier today, Vadra' arrived at the ED office, on order from Delhi Patiala Court, to answer queries about charges of money laundering levelled against him by the agency. His wife Priyanka Gandhi, sister of Rahul Gandhi, accompanied him, but left shortly after for the Congress headquarters. There she assumed the office of General Secretary of Uttar Pradesh (East) for Congress, a reponsibility she was given recently.
The line of questioning will reportedly be around Vadra's link to his aid Manoj Arora, Sumit Chaddha, C Thampi and Sanjay Bhandari, the accused in the money laundering case. Vadra is also likely to be questioned about the eight properties in London, which the ED states are kickbacks from a petroleum deal during the UPA regime. He will also be asked about kickbacks he allegedly received in the Agusta Westland case.
Vadra was given interim bail till February 16 by Delhi's Patiala Court in the money laundering case filed against him. Allegedly, he routed kickbacks in petroleum and defence deals during the previous UPA government.
"Everybody knows what's happening," Priyanka said while talking to reporters outside the ED offices in a veiled jab at BJP.
"I will stand by my husband," she stated before leaving for Congress headquarters in Delhi.
The agency had said before the Patiala Court that it has received information about various new properties in London which belongs to Vadra including two houses of five and four million each, six other flats and more properties. The ED had carried out raids in this case in December last year at premises of a firm linked to Vadra in Delhi. It also grilled his associate Manoj Arora in connection with the case. Vadra had alleged he was being "hounded and harassed" to subserve political ends. Arora had also alleged before the court that the case was foisted on him by the NDA government out of "political vendetta".
The agency had told the court that it filed the money laundering case against Arora after his role came up during the probe of another case by the Income Tax Department under the 2015 anti-black money legislation against absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.
It had alleged that the London-based property was bought by Bhandari for GBP 1.9 million and sold in 2010 for the same amount despite incurring additional expenses of approximately GBP 65,900 on its renovation. Arora, an employee of Vadra's Skylight Hospitality LLP, was a key person in the case and he was aware of the latter's overseas undeclared assets and was instrumental in arranging funds, ED had alleged.