• Associate Sponsor

Robert Vadra air ticket probe hits dead end, agency says got cash

In June 2016, The Indian Express reported that Bhandari had admitted that the email trail recovered from his computer was indeed that of messages exchanged between him, Robert Vadra and Vadra’s assistant Manoj Arora.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: October 18, 2017 11:44 am
Congress leader and businessman Robert Vadra.

Fresh revelations alleging that arms agent Sanjay Bhandari, who has been on the Income Tax Department’s radar since he was raided in April 2016, may have purchased international business-class air tickets for Robert Vadra and  may have created political ripples but officials in the Department say that aspect of the probe has virtually reached a dead end.

Reason: when tax sleuths approached the Paharganj-based travel agency through which the air passage had been booked, they were informed that the payments were received in cash and they had no recollection whether the money was handed over to them by someone from either Sanjay Bhandari’s side or Robert Vadra’s side.

Said a senior Income Tax official monitoring the probe, “If the payments for the flights had been made by cheque, we could have traced the person who made the payments. But since the payments were made in cash there is nothing to dig deeper. And an amount of between Rs 8 lakh-Rs 10 lakh is too small an amount for us to call Robert Vadra over for questioning.”

Significantly, officials said that the mail trail of ticket bookings for Zurich (the bookings were for August 2012) were located by them shortly after searches were conducted along with other mails connected to the renovation of a property in London ostensibly being done by Sanjay Bhandari for Robert Vadra.

Officials who were part of the Income tax team that questioned Bhandari soon after he was raided said that he was extremely evasive about any queries raised with him. And this had included questions put to him on air tickets being booked for Vadra and who had made the payments. “I do not recall” is what Bhandari had repeatedly said on the subject. It is to be recalled that Sanjay Bhandari has been on the “absconding” list for the past few months and, in his absence, his properties to the tune of Rs 20 crore have been attached by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) earlier this year.

The Income Tax Department, meanwhile, has focused its attention on the international side of the Bhandari probe since the raids revealed that the arms agent had several properties and bank accounts, for one, in Dubai. There is also the important angle of huge payments being received from Swiss aircraft major Pilatus and deposited into Bhandari’s bank accounts in Dubai.

Said a top IT official, “Our investigations have so far revealed that while the payments came in from Pilatus, they were quickly routed out to several off shore companies within a day or two. This is the stage at which we are now and we are waiting for details from several off shore jurisdictions where the payments were moved. It was all done in a very clever and layered manner and the case has become a challenge.”

In June 2016, The Indian Express reported that Bhandari had admitted that the email trail recovered from his computer was indeed that of messages exchanged between him, Robert Vadra and Vadra’s assistant Manoj Arora.
Officials confirmed that Bhandari was confronted with the batch of emails, including one dated April 4, 2010 — the only one sent from Vadra’s own email ID and signed off by him — and he acknowledged the exchanges on the subject of finalising interiors for an apartment in London.

An attachment to one of the mails shows that while the cost of refurbishing was earlier estimated by Sumit Chadda, a relative of Bhandari, to be 28,000 pounds, additional items were added to the worklist and the estimate went up to 35,000 pounds. On May 5, 2016, the IT’s investigation wing assessed the significance of the mail trail and sent as many as seven requests to countries for details of property deals involving Bhandari.

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App

  1. B
    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:09 am
    Poor Robert Vadre is not having money to buy AIR ticket as his Italian mother is notorious in not giving any pocket money .So one passer by helping him Rs 10 Lakhs Air ticket does not know destinations I-T Officials might be knowing money in old Indian currency all must be investigated One cannot accept this type of NEWS from Goenka's Indian Express as it is well know since 5 decades this paper is against Nehru Family
    1. S
      Shafted mohammed
      Oct 19, 2017 at 12:51 pm
      Congress has got top notch lawyers like Kapil sibal and abhishek manu singhvi and thus vadra should file a lawsuit of 200 crores. Abhishek has significant influence on judiciary and if required they can consult another top notch lawyer Sushil kumar Shinde and shut Times now. Robert has done nothing wrong and thus should fight hard. This bad publicity is affecting the re tion of rahulji who would soon be Ella ate dinner to congress president.
      1. S
        Oct 19, 2017 at 12:16 am
        And which prime moron flies on adani's private jet Nirmala aunty???
        1. Virendra Sason
          Oct 18, 2017 at 9:49 pm
          अभी तक बीजेपी वालों जमीन में गड़ा वही पत्थर निकल कर कांग्रेस पर फेंकना चाहते है जो जमीन 80 धसा होता है और निकलता - निकलते पसीना - पसीना हो जाते है। पत्थर वही का वहीँ रहता है।
          1. M
            Oct 18, 2017 at 6:05 pm
            The reason they are fielding Nirmala to make this a hot topic now is that she is new and still has some respect and credibility. But since the motive for raising this now is clear to everybody, the public will soon add her to the group of least credible people in BJP like Modi, Shah, Yogi, Sakhshi Maharaj, Rajnath, Sangeet Som, Vinat Katiyar et al.,.
            1. I
              Oct 18, 2017 at 7:49 pm
              Item singer Nirmala, and item dancer Irani along with Debonair Girl Pandey, are such lovable empty headed females, that it is a shame to criticize them.
            2. Load More Comments