In a revelation that has triggered controversy, a probe by the income tax department into the transactions of arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari has allegedly shown that he had links with Robert Vadra, with emphasis on the ownership of a house in London.
The son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Vadra is no stranger to controversy and allegedly exchanged emails with Bhandari over the sale of a property in London.
Quoting sources, the Times of India reported:
Papers seized by the I-T department during searches last month on Bhandari's premises revealed a trail of emails between Vadra and his assistant on the one hand and the arms dealer's aide Sumit Chadha on the other regarding the purchase of the London house for approximately Rs 19 crore in 2009. There are emails also regarding renovation work carried out on the property before it was sold in June 2010.
Sumit Chadda is reportedly a relative of Sanjay Bhandari, and is based in London.
According to NDTV, one of the two government reports that it accessed, said that Bhandari "avoided a direct answer" when he was questioned over whether Robert Vadra was the beneficiary of the sale and said that "he would be able to confirm it by referring it to sale deed kept with his lawyer in London."
The report also adds:
Sanjay Bhandari formed Offset India Solutions (OIS) in 2008 with a paid-up capital of only one lakh rupees. Its rapid escalation into a multi-crore venture caught the attention of financial crime investigators. He is now being investigated for financial violations linked to 35 suspected shell companies between 2009 and 2014.
So far, Vadra's lawyers have denied all allegations.
"Our clients wish to categorically and unequivocally state that they do not own, directly or indirectly, any house described by you as House No.12, Ellerton House, Bryanston Square, London," Robert Vadra's legal firm told TOI.
It also issued a separate and more detailed statement to NDTV, which quoted the report and stated that Robert Vadra's secretary kept in touch with Sumit Chadda using an email ID 'Exim Real Estate.â€™
However, documents seen by Outlook's Meetu Jain have reportedly named many more prominent figures in the country beside Vadra.
Call data records of Bhandari shows that he was in contact with BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh, who made over 450 calls to Bhandari "within a short span of time"...Documents also indicate that Bhandari was in touch with former Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dixit and used to visit her house frequently.
While Singh said that Bhandari was an acquaintance, and added that he was not aware of his business deals, Dixit said that he was just another person she met among the hundreds that thronged her house.
The Outlook report also adds that a senior BJP leader, now out of favour with the party's top brass, and a Delhi-based journalist with an English daily were also under the scanner.