Robert Vadra grilled by ED for third time in money laundering case

Deepika S

New Delhi, Feb 9: Robert Vadra, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's brother-in-law, on Saturday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for the third time in connection with a probe into allegations of money laundering in purchase of assets abroad.

Vadra arrived at the central probe agency's office at Jamnagar House in central Delhi at about 10.45 am in his private vehicle.

Robert Vadra was questioned for 6 hours by ED on day 1. On day 2, he was questioned for 9 hours. It remains to be seen how much time Vadra spends in ED office today.

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Vadra's wife Priyanka Gandhi stood by him to the ED office to pick before and after his questioning. This was her first appearance as a politician after being appointed the Congress general secretary for UP east.

Vadra was directed by a Delhi court on February 2, to cooperate with the probe being carried out by ED after he knocked at its door seeking anticipatory bail in the money laundering case.

The court directed him to appear before ED on Wednesday on his return from London.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seized on the questioning of Vadra to attack the Congress and alleged he got kickbacks from a petroleum and defence deals which took place during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged at a news conference that Vadra bought eight to nine properties in London from the money he got as kickbacks from a petroleum and a defence deal, which took place in 2008-09. Patra did not provide any evidence to back his claim.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi claimed the charges against Vadra are "fickle, superficial, non-existent, non-substantive".

The BJP had full four and a half years to investigate but could not find anything, he claimed at a news conference.

The attempt is to mislead, confuse and to create an ambience before the election, but people see through this, he 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.

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The agency had also told the court that it has received information about various ew 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 the case in December last year and grilled his aide Manoj Arora, an employee of a firm linked to Vadra, Skylight Hospitality LLP.

The agency had told the court that it filed a PMLA case against Arora, after his role cropped up during the probe of another case by the Income Tax Department under the 2015 anti-black money legislation against absconding 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.

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