Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra appears before Enforcement Directorate in money-laundering probe


BY S VENKAT NARAYAN Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, February 6: Leader of India’s Congress Party Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra Wednesday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money- laundering probe case relating to alleged possession of illegal foreign assets.Vadra's wife Priyanka Gandhi accompanied him in a white Toyota Land Cruiser along with SPG personnel in tow, and dropped him outside the agency's office in Jamnagar House in central Delhi. She soon left in her convoy of vehicles.Vadra entered the ED office at around 3:47 pm even as a team of his lawyers had arrived minutes before him.This is the first time Vadra, also the brother-in-law of Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi, is appearing before any probe agency in connection with alleged criminal charges of dubious financial dealings. Vadra has denied these allegations in the past and termed them a political witch-hunt against him.Rahul Gandhi's sister Priyanka Gandhi is married to Vadra and was recently appointed as party general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh.Vadra was directed by a Delhi court to cooperate with the investigation being carried out by the central probe agency after he knocked on its door seeking anticipatory bail in this case.The court had asked him to appear before the ED on Wednesday after returning from London.Official sources said Vadra will be put through questions on transactions, purchase and possession of certain immovable assets in London and his statement will be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).The case relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property located at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million pounds, which is allegedly owned by Vadra.The agency had told the court that it has received information about various new properties in London which belong to Vadra.The ED had carried out raids in this case in December last year and grilled his aide Manoj Arora, an employee of Skylight Hospitality LLP, a firm linked to Vadra,.Vadra has also been directed by the Rajasthan High Court to appear before the ED on February 12 in connection with another money laundering case being probed by the agency.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday attacked the Congress and its chief Rahul Gandhi's brother-in-law Robert Vadra after the ED quizzed him connection with a money-laundering probe, alleging he got "kickbacks" from petroleum and defence deals during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that Vadra "bought eight to nine properties in London" from the money he got as kickbacks in 2008-09 when the UPA was in power.Addressing a press conference here, Patra said he would like to ask Vadra: "What is the formula of becoming crorepati from roadpati?" Alleging that "corruption" has been the "core agenda" of the Congress Party, Patra said, "Everybody knows every member of the family is out on bail." "The 2019 Lok Sabha election is a fight between the gang of corrupt versus the transparency of Narendra Modi’s government," he said.Patra alleged that the "kickbacks received from a petroleum deal" went to the account of a company linked to Vadra and that he did round-tripping of money through various ways.Similarly, the BJP spokesperson alleged, another company used to get kickbacks in defence deals during the UPA regime, which eventually went to Vadra.Quoting an e-mail trail, he alleged that Vadra's company received "kickbacks" from a series of companies floated to "turn black money into white".

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