I-T dept records Robert Vadra's statement for 2nd day in benami assets case

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New Delhi, Jan 5 (PTI) The Income Tax department questioned Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, for about four hours on the second consecutive day on Tuesday in connection with its probe against him under the benami assets law, official sources said.

Vadra on Tuesday reiterated the allegations he had made the previous day -- that the aim of the action was to 'digress' from the 'real issues' being faced by the country and the farmers.

A team from the Chandigarh investigation unit of the department, that is handling the probe, was seen going inside Vadra's office in the Sukhdev Vihar area of the national capital around 3 PM. They left after 6 PM.

Vadra is married to Congress leader and Sonia Gandhi's daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Officials had said that the questioning was linked to the purchase of some land parcels by a firm linked to Vadra in Rajasthan's border town of Bikaner in which another central probe agency, the Enforcement Directorate, had filed a money laundering case in 2015.

Vadra's statement was recorded during the four hours that the tax sleuths spent at his premises on Tuesday, sources said.

Vadra, 52, alleged that the action of the central probe agencies against him was 'consistent' whenever there was an 'issue around.' 'Whenever there is an issue, Robert Vadra props up... if my family works hard for the people of this country and they (government) want to digress from issues...they will use me or any other issue,' he told reporters after the tax team left.

He said the government should 'help farmers and the people of this country', adding the agencies have all information about him and his businesses right 'from inception.' 'Whatever their queries are, I am here to answer...I have met ED 15 times for over 80 hours (in the past),' he said.

On Monday, Vadra was questioned for about eight hours and his statement was recorded as part of the proceedings related to the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, sources had said.

Tax department sources had said Vadra was asked to join the investigation at their office but as he cited the prevailing COVID-19 restrictions, I-T officials decided to visit his premises.

Officials had said the questioning was linked to the purchase of some land parcels by a firm linked to Vadra in Rajasthan's border town of Bikaner in which another central probe agency, the Enforcement Directorate, had filed a money laundering case in 2015.

The ED has questioned Vadra in this case in the past and had attached assets worth Rs 4.62 crore of his firm Ms Sky Light Hospitality (P) Ltd (now LLP) in 2019. Sources said the ED shared case documents of this probe along with that of possession of some alleged undisclosed assets abroad with the tax department for action under the anti-benami law that is enforced in the country by the latter.

The I-T department has also been probing Vadra on charges of alleged possession of some undisclosed assets in the UK.

The ED too is investigating these charges, under the anti-money laundering law, against the businessman.

The ED has accused Vadra of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million GBP (British pounds), which is allegedly owned by him and this transaction involves the role of absconding defence consultant Sanjay Bhandari. Bhandari has never joined the I-T or ED probe in this case and is stated to be based abroad. PTI NES RDM RDM