For the third consecutive day, Robert Vadra, Congress president Rahul Gandhi's brother-in-law, was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for hours in connection with a probe into allegations of money laundering to purchase assets abroad as he appeared before the agency. Vadra was grilled for about eight hours by ED officials on Saturday. Even on Friday, he was interrogated for about nine hours. On Thursday, the questioning continued for more than five hours.
On Saturday, Vadra arrived at the central probe agency's office at Jamnagar House in central Delhi at about 10:45 AM in his private vehicle and left around 8:15 PM. He was given an hour-long break for lunch. It was not immediately clear if he has been asked to depose again. After two sessions of questioning on February 6 and 7, officials said the investigating officer (IO) of the case wanted to put across more questions to Vadra in connection with the case and hence he was asked to depose again on Saturday. Sources said Vadra was questioned on various aspects of his personal and business finances during the latest session.
It is understood that the last time Vadra was "confronted with" documents that the agency has obtained or seized as part of its probe in the case, including those linked to absconding defence dealer Sanjay Bhandari.
Vadra has also shared documents with the investigating officer of the case and has assured some more will be provided as and when he gets them, official sources had said. The ED case against Vadra relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property located at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million GBP (British pounds), which is allegedly owned by him.
The agency has told a Delhi court that it has received information about various new properties in London which belong 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.
Sources said Vadra's statement was recorded under Section 50 (powers of authorities regarding summons, production of documents and to give evidence) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), as was done on the last two occasions.
News Nation has the list of questions that ED officials asked during the questioning. The main questions that were asked are:
1: How many properties you own in India?
2: Where are these properties located?
3: Around what time did you purchase these properties?
4: In which Indian and foreign companies have you invested?
5: From whom did you buy the properties?
Apart from these, the morning grilling also focussed on a piece of information in which Sanjay Bhandari had allegedly booked ticket for Vadra. According to the document seen by News Nation, the Enforcement Directorate questioned Vadra over his links with Bhandari. It is learnt that Bhandari had earlier revealed to Income Tax department that he had booked Vadra's ticket from France's Nice to New Delhi in August 2012.
The ED has also asked Vadra to furnish income tax returns from 2001 to 2014. News Nation also has the mail on which the ED is basing its probe. The mail is written by Chadha complaining about not receiving any ‘funds’ for the London house renovation. In the mail with ‘Brynston Sq’ written in subject line, Chadha rues over the delay in payment. “Hi Robert, Hope all is well. Any update on when some funds will be sent, have not heard back from anyone and & would appreciate if you can let me know so I can plan my cash flows (sic).”
Chadha goes on to say that he was doing the job as a favour. “As you are aware that I am not doing this project for any commercial gain only to complete a task taken on a favour & my ability to complete without unnecessary stress will be greatly assisted if I can be given some clear assurances & timelines on when I will be reimbursed,” Chadha wrote.
Contrary to what Vadra has been claiming the mail shows that Chadha renovated the London property on his order. “I have commenced completion of all the remaining structural works at the property in relation to the floors, bathrooms & heating systems. All materials have been procured & installation has begun of the wooden floors, hope to have full team on site to install bathrooms from middle of next week as good news is that I have been able to arrange express delivery of the majority of core bathroom fittings,” Chadha wrote.
To this, Vadra has replied from his Yahoo account. “Was not aware that nothing had reached you. Will look into it in the morning and let Manoj sort it out. Will be in London soon. You take care,” Vadra wrote.
Here are some of the questions ED officials asked Robert Vadra on February 6:
1. Is London's 12 Brighton Squire property yours?
2. What’s your connection with the London property, why mails were sent to you regarding its renovation?
3. Is it right that the floor plan of this property was sent to you? In 2010, when these mails were coming to you, this property was with the arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. Then why did the emails come to you? Is this property linked to you?
4. A fund was also sought to build a property from you, and in response, you also responded to Sumit Chadda who had sent the mail. You had assured him for the fund, why were you arranging for the fund?
5. Why was the copy of every email sent to you was given to Sanjay Bhandari?
6. How do you know Sanjay Bhandari and Sumit Chadda?
7. Do you know the Indian national CC Thampi, who lives in Dubai, and who bought this property from Sanjay Bhandari?