India

Court blow to arms dealer, summons for Vadra likely

NEW DELHI: A special court in Delhi on Thursday took cognisance of a prosecution complaint (chargesheet) filed by the Enforcement Directorate recently against fugitive defence dealer Sanjay Bhandari, in a development which can help the authorities seek early extradition of the middleman known for his political links.
The court, while calling for speeding up Bhandari’s extradition, also directed the ED to summon all the accused so that trial in the long-pending money laundering case could start soon. The court’s directive is significant as the ED has mentioned Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, as one of the accused in the chargesheet filed against Bhandari in the defence payoffs and money laundering case.
“The special judge also permitted ED to carry out further probe in this case while issuing summons,” an official said, hinting that Vadra could soon be called for questioning by the investigating officers in connection with several alleged defence payoffs and money trail established by the agency.
Bhandari was arrested in London on the request of the Indian government but a UK court granted him bail as no court in India had till then taken cognisance of any chargesheet filed against him.
The ED had filed the chargesheet in the special court in Delhi on June 1 when courts were functioning only partially due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The income tax department has already filed a chargesheet in the case under the Black Money Act and later attached all his assets in London and Dubai, restraining him from disposing of these assets.
In ED’s investigation report, Bhandari is named as the “beneficial” owner of a number of companies incorporated in the UAE — Offset India Solution FZC, Santech International FZC, Serra Dues Technologies, Petro Global Technologies FZC — besides a flat in Dubai and two flats in Bryanston Square in London. The agency has alleged that all these properties are allegedly controlled by Vadra’s associates.
“Investigation found that Sanjay Bhandari had acquired movable/immovable assets worth more than Rs 150 crore outside India in contravention of foreign exchange rules,” the ED said in one of its reports.
Recently, the ED registered a case against him in the Pilatus aircraft deal where it said it had traced alleged kickbacks of Rs 310 crore transferred to Dubai accounts of Bhandari’s Offset India Solutions FZC.
Vadra has earlier been questioned by the ED about the London flat which Bhandari had purchased at Bryanston Square as well as other properties in Dubai and the UK.

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