Money laundering case: ED grills Robert Vadra, Priyanka stands in support; why before polls, asks Mamatahttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/robert-vadra-money-laundering-case-ed-5572250/

Money laundering case: ED grills Robert Vadra, Priyanka stands in support; why before polls, asks Mamata

The case is linked to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of London-based property worth 1.9 million pounds. Last week, a Delhi court granted Vadra interim bail until February 16.

Money laundering case: Robert Vadra appears before ED, Priyanka says 'I stand by him'
This is the first time Vadra has appeared before any probe agency in connection with charges of dubious financial dealings. Vadra had denied these allegations in the past and termed them a political witch hunt against him. (AP Photo)

Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Delhi on Wednesday for interrogation in a money laundering case. Vadra was accompanied by his wife Priyanka Gandhi, but she left soon afterwards.

The case is linked to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of London-based property worth 1.9 million pounds. Last week, a Delhi court granted Vadra interim bail until February 16 but asked the businessman to join the probe.

Asked about dropping off her husband at the probe agency’s office, Gandhi, who took charge as the Congress general secretary, said, “I stand by my family.”

PTI quoted official sources as saying that Vadra would be put through questions on transactions, purchase and possession of certain immovable assets in London and his statement will be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

This is the first time Vadra has appeared before any probe agency in connection with charges of dubious financial dealings. Vadra had denied these allegations in the past and termed them a political witch hunt against him.

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During the hearing for anticipatory bail last week, senior advocate K T S Tulsi, representing Vadra, contended that his client was being “subjected to a farce of criminal prosecution, which actually is beset with nothing except political vendetta”.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accompanies Robert Vadra to the Enforcement Directorate. (ANI)

Opposing the interim bail, ED’s counsels DP Singh and Nitesh Rana said that during the interrogation of Manoj Arora, an aide of Vadra, it was learnt that kickbacks were received in the 2009 petroleum contract, which was used to buy various properties in London.

The ED submitted that there were other cases, allegedly involving the acquisition of property through money laundering. The counsel also averred that Vadra possesses six flats abroad.

On December 7, the ED conducted searches in Delhi and Bengaluru and one of the premises searched, according to Vadra’s lawyer Suman Khaitan, was Vadra’s office in Sukhdev Vihar, New Delhi.

BJP attacks Congress

Meanwhile after Vadra’s interrogation, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra Wednesday alleged that Vadra “bought eight to nine properties in London” from the money he received as kickbacks from petroleum and defence deals in 2008-09 when UPA was in power, PTI quoted as saying.

Aiming the question at Vadra, Patra asked: “What is the formula of becoming crorepati from roadpati”. Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Patra further alleged corruption as Congress’ core agenda. “The 2019 Lok Sabha election is a fight between the gang of corrupt versus transparency of Narendra Modi government,” he said.

Why before polls? asks Mamata

However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Centre for the interrogation of Vadra, claiming that the BJP was deliberately doing it ahead of the general election.

Asserting that the Bharatiya Janata Party would not be able to scare the Opposition by the tactics of sending notices “casually to everybody”, Banerjee said: “We will complain to the Election Commission against such trend.”

“They (the Centre) are doing it deliberately ahead of the polls,” the Trinamool Congress supremo told reporters at the state secretariat.