Robert Vadra has filed an application for anticipatory bail before the Patiala House Court in a money laundering case. The application will come up today before the court. This application has been made even as a close aide of Vadra, Manoj Arora is being tried in a money laundering case pertaining to a property in London. His counsel had earlier told the court that Arora was being forced to name Robert Vadra as he is his employee.
The Rajasthan High Court had directed Robert Vadra and his partners in Skylight Hospitality Private Limited, including his mother Maureen Vadra, to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on February 12 and explain his stand on this case. Now, a seemingly scared Vadra has filed an application for anticipatory bail before the court.
Enforcement Directorate’s special public prosecutor Nitesh Rana said that the case relates to allegations of money laundering in a transaction of purchase of a London-based property — 12, Bryanston Square — worth 1.9 million pounds. The property was allegedly owned by the brother-in-law of the Congress president Rahul Gandhi. ED also told the Court that it filed a case of money laundering against Arora after his role came up during the probe of another case by the Income Tax department against arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.
As per the Enforcement Directorate, the above said property was purchased by Bhandari for 1.9 million pounds and then sold in 2010 for the same amount. The property was sold at the same price despite incurring additional expenses to the tune of 65,900 pounds on the renovation of the property. The advocate representing ED said, “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.”
This is not for the first time in the recent past that a land deal involving Vadra has come under the scanner. In November last year, a probe into a land deal had revealed that a company had extended loans to Robert Vadra at a higher cost to buy land in Bikaner. As a result of this loan, the firm got a huge income tax relief from the Income Tax Settlement Commission. The ED sought details of the proceedings from the Settlement Commission on the case. The company had given a loan of Rs 5.64 crore in 2011-2012 to a Delhi-based firm – Allegeny Finlease Pvt. Ltd. The company then bought land in Bikaner on behalf of Sky Light Hospitality.
The fact that Robert Vadra felt constrained to file an anticipatory bail application goes on to show that he is somewhat scared of the way things are progressing in the case of money laundering involving the London based property. The case of money laundering has come at a very bad time for Congress. With the 2019 Lok Sabha polls around the corner and Priyanka Gandhi making an entry into active politics, allegations of murky land deals against Vadra is the last thing that the Congress would have wanted. The grand old party faced a drubbing in 2014 due to such allegations, among various other reasons. Congress just can’t afford what happened in the run-up to the 2014 polls to repeat itself. Robert Vadra seems to understand that the Modi government is not going to leave any stone unturned in order to ensure that all cases involving suspicious transactions are thoroughly investigated and this explains why the anticipatory bail plea has been made.