Pradeep Thakur |
Source: Times of India
NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate‘s probe against Robert Vadra remains focused on the acquisition of expensive properties abroad through allegedly benami transactions, with investigators expanding the ambit of their curiosity beyond properties in London to ask the husband of Congress’s general secretary Priyanka Gandhi about the purchase of a Dubai villa.
Sources said investigators, who had earlier asked Vadra to clarify their suspicions about his links to a London flat at 12, Ellorton House, Bryanston Square worth over Rs 26 crore, have now asked him also to explain whether he was connected to the purchase of a Dubai villa , E-74 at Jumeirah, for Rs 14 crore.
Vadra was also asked about big cash deposits in Dubai based Skylight Investments, a company bearing a name with striking similarity to the one he owns in India, Skylight Hospitality Pvt Ltd, and which has been in the crosshairs of multiple probes into controversial land dealings in Gurgaon in Delhi-NCR and Bikaner in Rajasthan. Indeed, Vadra has been instructed by the Rajasthan high court to face, along with his mother, an ED team looking into land transactions in Rajasthan.
Sources said Vadra was asked to explain his ties with CC Thampi, the person who was the shareholder of Skylight Investment FZE. Suspected to be a shell company with no business to show, it bought the property in London’s Bryanston Square from fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari in June 2010 after money was transferred to Bhandari’s firm.
Sources claimed Vadra’s denial about his links with Skylight Investment FZE, Dubai, was unconvincing. “He looked flustered,” claimed a source familiar with the course of investigation.
Curiously, the name of Skylight Investment FZE was changed to Mayfair Investment FZE on 30th March 2013, a development that came after Bhandari fell under the income tax scanner. It is alleged that Bhandari, who fled India after being booked under Official Secrets Act by the NDA government and remains untraced, had acquired the flat through payoffs he allegedly received for swinging an ONGC contract for a South Korean multinational.
Sources said ED has mapped the transactions and zeroed in on the end beneficiary. All these transactions have been sourced by Indian agencies from foreign authorities and accordingly mapped the flow of money with shell companies and beneficiaries of the deal.
As per the details, Vadra’s aide Thampi allegedly transferred his 100% shareholding in Skylight Investment, which consists of 1 share of dirham 1,50,000 to son of his stepsister, Vadakkethala Cheru Geever. It is Thampi’s step-nephew who now owns the London and Dubai properties.
A multi-agency probe by the Indian government in the past two years revealed that Skylight Investment FZE, now Mayfair Investment FZE, had no real business activity yet huge cash deposits were made in its account just before the purchase of the London flat and the Dubai villa.
Among its assets declared in December 2010, the company has shown investment of dirham 94,83,893 (Rs 12 crore); a villa in Dubai for Dirham 107,41,996 (Rs 14 crore) and London flat worth Dirham 202,25,889 (Rs 26 crore). May Fair Investment does not have business activity and its bank account was opened on 31 March 2009 with Dirham 1,50,000 (Rs 19 lakh).
Categories: India news