The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Robert Vadra to record his statement in connection with a money laundering case. Vadra has been summoned under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, is under suspicion of having carried out a number of shady land deals, this time in Bikaner, Rajastan. He had earlier been summoned on November 20 but he did not appear in person and sent his legal representative with documents. He has now been asked to appear in person.
Robert Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality Private Limited is said to have bought land for a little over Rs. 1 Lakh/hectare in Bikaner in 2010 and in January, 2012, he sold this 69.55 hectares of land in two deals for 7.41 lakh/hectare, seven times higher than the purchase price two years ago, amounting to about Rs. 5.15 Crore. The land was bought by Allegeny Finlease Private Limited (AFPL), which around the same time had received a loan of Rs. 5.55 crores, from a power and steel giant Bhushan Power & Steal Limited (BPSL). But there has been no repayment to BPSL by AFPL as per AFPL’s filings with the Registrar of Companies.
The ED had also sought, two months ago, details from the Income Tax Settlement Commission on its proceedings in a case related to BPSL and the details of the reconstituted bench which may have given BPSL undue tax relief. The IT department had issued show-cause notice to BPSL and sought the company to make income additions for assessment years 2004-05 to 2011-12 on various accounts aggregating to over Rs 800 crore, after which BPSL approached the Settlement Commission on December 12, 2011, which termed it “not invalid” and admitted the application in February, 2012.
In June 2013, the Settlement Commission ordered that the addition of payment be made and that “no immunity is granted from prosecution and penalty imposable under the IT Act to the issues arising from application and covered by this order”. But this order was overturned by a reconstituted bench within a fortnight, granting an income relief of about Rs. 500 crore and “immunity from prosecution and penalty imposable under various sections of the Income Tax Act”.
This clearly indicates a deeply ingrained nexus of business houses, Robert Vadra, the UPA rule and the pliant institutions under it. Yet, this is not the first time Robert Vadra’s infamous Sky Light Hospitality has been accused of involvement in questionable land deals. In 2017, the Justice SN Dhingra Commission concluded that Robert Vadra made illegal profits of Rs 50.5 crore from a land deal in Haryana in 2008. There are a plethora of other unscrupulous business transactions made in this timeline in Haryana and Rajasthan which are under probe, and Robert Vadra and his Congress allies have a predictable tendency to dub it “political vendetta” every time.
It is very obvious that Robert Vadra had never feared the consequences of brazen money laundering activities under the patronage of the UPA rule. Indeed, it is unimaginable to think of the ED pursuing a politically affiliated money launderer in the UPA regime. With an excess of skeletons in its closet, slowly coming under probation, the Congress party shall go to polls aggressively and leave no stone unturned to return to power, because if there is anyone who knows the magnitude of the consequences that await the Congress, it is the Congress Party itself.