The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets worth Rs 21 crore of controversial defence consultant and arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari in connection with a money laundering probe against him.
This is the first attachment of assets order issued by the central probe agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED took cognisance of the new Anti-Black Money Act that was notified last year to check the menace and catch hold of those who have stashed illegal funds or properties abroad.
The Income Tax Department had booked Bhandari under the new Act, called the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.
Under this law, cases of overseas illegal assets, which till recently were probed under the Income Tax Act, 1961, attract a steep 120 per cent tax and penalty on undisclosed foreign assets and income, besides carrying a jail term of up to 10 years.
The ED had booked Bhandari, reported to have left India for a foreign location sometime ago, under criminal charges of the PMLA law in February.
The Delhi Police had also booked him for alleged violation of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) last year.
Bhandari’s case first came to light after the I-T department conducted searches against him in April last year and recovered certain “sensitive” official defence documents from his premises.
As part of these raids, the taxman is also said to have recovered certain emails that speak about renovation of a costly apartment in London in 2010 which was allegedly owned by Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Vadra’s legal firm has denied that he owned the London property directly or indirectly. It also denied Vadra’s business ties with an arms consultant or his aides.
The tax department had last year also shared a “seizure memo record” with the defence ministry to apprise it about the contents of these “sensitive” documents.