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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Robert Vadra Money laundering case: Delhi court extends ED’s custody of Thampi

The ED had arrested Thampi in connection with a case of alleged money laundering it is probing against Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi | Published: January 22, 2020 4:19:41 am
Robert Vadra. (File)

A Delhi court on Tuesday extended custodial interrogation of NRI businessman C C Thampi by three days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told the court that the investigation is progressing at a slow pace.

The ED had arrested Thampi in connection with a case of alleged money laundering it is probing against Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

Thampi is said to be a close aide of Vadra and is alleged to have helped him invest in real estate assets in London, including the ownership of Bryanston Square property in London, which the agency had earlier alleged was acquired by Bhandari for Vadra.

Thampi runs a company named Skylight FZE in Dubai, which shares its name with a company owned by Vadra in India.

Receipt of foreign banking transactions from several countries had led to Thampi’s arrest, and ED claimed it had evidence to link him to money laundering and property acquisition deals with Vadra and Bhandari.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who represented Thampi, opposed the ED’s demand for 11-day remand and told the court that considering the agency’s submission that it was not due to Thampi’s fault that the investigation was going slow, there was no justification in keeping him in further custody.

Thampi’s lawyers have also filed his bail application. Special Judge Arvind Kumar has issued notice to the ED and will hear the matter on January 24.

The ED’s counsels, Amit Mahajan and N K Matta, told the court that the probe was incomplete and Thampi’s further custody is required to confront him with various documents and persons. The agency did not disclose names of those who will be called to join the probe.

Mahajan told Judge Kumar, “The pace at which the investigation is going is very slow. We don’t want to say it is the fault of the accused. The nature of the investigation dates back to 2009. We cannot complete what we want in three days…”

But in its remand application, the ED stated, “He (Thampi) is writing in capital letters. He is deliberately employing delay tactics and is taking an inordinate amount of time in writing replies to even very simple questions. After taking a long time, he is giving only vague and evasive replies. Due to his delaying tactics, he could not be confronted with documents in three days. He is disregarding all legal proceedings and merely whiling away time by continuing to not cooperate…”

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