ED requests foreign agencies for details about UK assets linked to Vadra, summons NRI

The ED has widened its probe against Robert Vadra and requested its UK counterparts to share details of ownership and related financial transactions of over half-a-dozen assets there that the agency claimed were acquired using laundered money and belonged to him, officials said.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also sought help from financial intelligence units of some countries to unravel the flow of funds used to buy these assets, they said. The agency is preparing a blueprint to provisionally attach these immovable assets in London and nearby areas under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.

The 50-year-old businessman, who is the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, has been grilled multiple times by the ED with regard to a London-based property located at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million GBP (British pounds), which it claims is allegedly owned by him. Sources said the agency has evidence that some more assets in the United Kingdom are “linked” to Vadra. These include two houses — one worth 5 million GBP and the other valued at 4 million GBP, and six flats.

The federal anti-money laundering agency, the sources said, has detected some alleged undisclosed transactions being made from Cyprus and Dubai for the purchase of these assets by people linked to Vadra. Questioning of Vadra on his links to these assets has not got the agency much leads. It now wants to put Vadra through sustained interrogation and has moved court to cancel his anticipatory bail, they said.

The businessman, in his defence, had said that he was being subjected to “sensation and unnecessary drama” by the repeated exercise of summoning him by the ED. He posted on the social media recently that his life “is unique and I have fought for almost a decade over baseless accusations.”

“Physically situations can change, but ones honest mind cannot. I am determined on the truth and it is a book in the making, for the world to read and know clearly, my side…,” said Vadra, the husband of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The sources said the agency has asked its UK counterparts to help them get full details of the chain of ownership of these assets apart from documents that legally establish their sale and purchase over a period of time.

The exercise, it is understood, is aimed at ensuring attachment of these assets under the PMLA and prepare a watertight case against Vadra and his other associates. A main suspect for the Enforcement Directorate in these dealings is NRI businessman C C Thampi who has been charged by the agency in an alleged illegal hawala dealings and land purchase case in the country in 2017. It had issued a show-cause notice to Thampi for alleged violation of foreign exchange laws to the tune of over Rs 1,000 crore in the purchase of vast tracts of land in Kerala. Thampi has now been summoned by the agency for questioning about his links with Vadra and absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

The agency claims Thampi met Vadra through an aide of his mother-in-law and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, while the businessman has reportedly told the ED that he met him on board an Emirates flight some years ago. Thampi, during his earlier grilling session with the ED, has claimed that Vadra had stayed at the Bryanston Square property in London, which has been denied by the businessman in his statement made to the agency. Thampi has sought some more time to appear before the ED as he claims he is unwell, the sources said. Some other people linked to Vadra and Bhandari have also been summoned, they said.

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