Money laundering case: Delhi court grants interim bail to Robert Vadra, directs him to join probe

Rahul Gandhi & Robert Vadra
Money laundering case: Delhi court grants interim bail to Robert Vadra, directs him to join probe

A Delhi court Saturday granted interim bail till February 16 to Robert Vadra in a money-laundering case and asked him to appear before the Enforcement Directorate and cooperate in the investigation.

Vadra, who is currently abroad, had on Friday filed an anticipatory bail application in the case linked to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property — 12, Bryanston Square — worth 1.9 million pounds.

The property is allegedly owned by Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Vadra’s counsel informed the court that he will return to Delhi from London on February 6 and would join the probe.

Taking note of the assurance by his counsel, special judge Arvind Kumar directed Vadra to appear before ED after his return on February 6 and cooperate in the investigation.

“I am granting him interim bail. Let him come and join the probe,” the judge said.

The court asked him to furnish a personal bond of Rs one lakh and a surety of like amount as a condition for securing interim bail.

During the hearing, special public prosecutor D P Singh and advocate Nitesh Rana, appearing for ED, opposed Vadra’s anticipatory bail and claimed that he had also got kickbacks in a petroleum deal in 2009.

The agency said it has received information about various new properties in London which belongs to Vadra including two houses of five and four million each, six other flats and more properties.

“We just want him to come and inform about his properties,” Rana said.

Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, appearing for Vadra, told the court that he was in London for the treatment of his mother and assured the court that he will come and join the probe.

In his anticipatory bail plea, Vadra said he was being subjected to “unwarranted, unjustified and malicious criminal prosecution which on the face of it is completely politically motivated and is being carried out for reasons other than those prescribed under law”.

The plea said Vadra’s office was raided by ED on December 7, 2018 and therefore, he seriously apprehends that his liberty may be curtailed by the investigating agency.

“The petitioner (Vadra) is being subjected to a farce criminal prosecution which actually is beset with nothing else except political vendetta and most unfortunately the respondent (ED) being the law enforcement agency is a party to the unethical and illegal exercise.

“It is stated that the petitioner’s (Vadra’s) firm through its authorised representative Manoj Arora has already joined investigation with the ED conducting investigation into the affairs of the firm in Rajasthan with their offices at Jaipur on many occasions and has supplied all the relevant documents to the satisfaction of the officials of the ED,” the plea said.

Arora, an employee of Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality LLP, was a key person in the case and he was aware of the latter’s overseas undeclared assets and was instrumental in arranging funds, ED had alleged.

Vadra alleged that he is being “hounded and harassed” to subserve political ends.

“It is stated the the petitioner has highest regard for the due process of law and is always willing to cooperate with the investigation in the highly charged political atmosphere and political contours of the present investigation, he seriously apprehends arrest by the investigating authorities and in such circumstances, the petitioner by means of the present petition is also praying that while he is willing to join investigation with the ED authorities,” his plea read.

Arora had alleged before the court that the case was foisted on him by the NDA government out of “political vendetta”.

However, the ED had refuted the allegations, asking that “should no authority investigate any political bigwig because that will be called a political vendetta?”

The agency had told the court that it lodged the money laundering case against Arora after his role came up during the probe of another case by the Income Tax Department under the newly enacted Black Money Act and tax law against absconding arms dealer Sanjay 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.

“This gives credence to the fact that Bhandari was not the actual owner of the property but it was beneficially owned by Vadra who was incurring expenditure on the renovation of this property,” the ED had told the court. PTI