Priyanka Gandhi faces ED charges in Robert Vadra PMLA case

Though ED has named Vadra in earlier charge sheets related to the case as a close aide of Thampi, this is the first time that Priyanka has been mentioned.
Priyanka Gandhi faces ED charges in Robert Vadra PMLA case
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

New Delhi Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra bought land in Haryana through a Delhi-based real estate agent who also sold land to NRI businessman CC Thampi, the Enforcement Directorate has claimed, while adding that Vadra and Thampi have a “long and thick” relationship that extends to “common and business interests”.

The larger case involves fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, who is under investigation by multiple agencies for money-laundering, violation of foreign exchange and black money laws, and the Official Secrets Act. He fled India for the UK in 2016. Thampi has been accused of facilitating Bhandari to hide proceeds of crime, along with Sumit Chadha, a British national.

Though ED has named Robert Vadra in earlier charge sheets related to the case as a close aide of Thampi, this is the first time that Priyanka Gandhi has been mentioned in an official document submitted to court.

In the latest charge sheet, filed in November and reviewed by HT on Wednesday, the federal agency has alleged that estate agent HL Pahwa, who sold properties to both Vadra and Thampi, received cash out of the books for the land purchase in Haryana, and that Vadra did not pay the full amount for the sale. Pahwa also sold agricultural land to Priyanka Gandhi in 2006 and bought it back from her in 2010, the agency said.

To be sure, Robert Vadra and Priyanka Gandhi have not been named as accused, and the land transactions have been mentioned to draw a link between Thampi and Vadra.

A press release by the agency on Tuesday, which HT reported, also mentioned Vadra in connection with the purchase of a property in London that is part of the probe.Detailing the association between Vadra and Thampi, the charge sheet states, “During the course of investigation in this case, it is found that a long and thick relationship exists between CC Thampi and Robert Vadra. Not only a personal/cordial bond but common and similar business interests are also found between them.”

Thampi, arrested in January 2020, ostensibly told ED that he knew Vadra for over 10 years and that they met several times during Vadra’s visits to the UAE as well as in Delhi. ED has said that Thampi used the services of Pahwa to buy 486 acres of land from 2005 to 2008 in village Amipur in Faridabad, Haryana.

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Priyanka Gandhi faces ED charges in Robert Vadra PMLA case

“It is imperative to mention that Robert Vadra also purchased three pieces of land measuring 334 kanals (40.08 acres) in Amipur from [the same] HL Pahwa from 2005-2006 and sold the same land to Pahwa in December 2010. Further, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, wife of Robert Vadra, also purchased agricultural land measuring 40 kanal (5 acres) in village Amipur from Pahwa in April 2006 and sold the same land to Pahwa in February 2010,” the charge sheet said

Pahwa, according to ED, was receiving cash out of the books for the acquisition of land. “It was also noticed that Robert Vadra did not pay the entire sale consideration to Pahwa,” agency has said, while adding that “investigation in this regard is still ongoing”. ED has also provided details of other financial transactions between Vadra and Thampi. For instance, it has claimed, that Thampi purchased a Land Cruiser car from Vadra for which payments were made through cheques from his NRE (non-resident external) account.

About the London property under probe, ED has claimed that Bhandari acquired it in December 2009 and it was renovated using Robert Vadra’s funds. Vadra also stayed in the property -- 12, Bryanston Square -- “three-four times”, ED said. “The common thread with regard to the said (London) property starting from the date of acquisition to its use was CC Thampi, Sumit Chadha and Robert Vadra,” it added.

ED has claimed since 2020 that the property in question, worth 1.9 million pounds at the time, belongs to Vadra, and that Thampi played a crucial role in its purchase.

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Priyanka Gandhi faces ED charges in Robert Vadra PMLA case

HT reached out to Robert Vadra and Priyanka Gandhi for comments but did not get a response till the time of going to print, however, earlier inJanuary 2020 he had said:“It’s a free for all in this country…truth has no place. Witch-hunt continues for almost a decade. Another decade more and we will be referring to what happened in 2010, 2011, 2012 and on and on.”

Source: Hindustan Times

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