Amid Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s renewed attacks on the Rafale deal, a new report by OpIndia has revealed his links with fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, who is also close to his brother-in-law Robert Vadra.
Bhandari, who is under the radar of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for his shady dealings, had lobbied for a part of the Rafale offset pie during the rue of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance. According to The Economic Times, Bhandari had applied ‘considerable pressure’ for a slice of the work.
The OpIndia report suggests that Rahul Gandhi is linked to Bhandari through a Dubai-based businessman named C C Thampi. Here’s what the portal has found:
Rahul Gandhi had bought 6.5 acres of land in Haryana’s Hassanpur from Gurgaon resident H L Pahwa in 2008 for a small price of Rs 26.47 lakh. His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and brother-in-law Robert Vadra also bought land from Pahwa.
A piece of land bought by Priyanka Gandhi in 2006 for Rs 15 lakh was sold back to Pahwa just four years later (in 2010) for Rs 84.15 lakh. According to the portal’s report, Pahwa paid for this piece of land in five installments citing “non-availability of funds”. Other reports, including this from 2013, also suggest that Pahwa brought back land sold to Robert Vadra at a loss of about Rs 2.5 crore.
Why? OpIndia report says, citing files in ED’s possession, that Pahwa was paid Rs 54 crore by Thampi to pay for the land bought back at inflated price.
According to recent reports, ED believes that Vadra received kickback for a deal between Samsung and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation in 2009 through a Sharjah-based company controlled by Thampi.
Thampi, who is under ED’s scanner for Foreign Exchange Management Act violations of Rs 1,000 crore, is a close business associate of Bhandari. According to the portal, there appears to be a money trail between the two.
For the petroleum deal, Bhandari’s firm is said to have received $49,99,969 as kickback in its bank account. He transferred £19,22,262 to UK and used this fund to buy two shares of a company named Vortex, which was holding a flat in London. To sum up, the money that Bhandari received as kickback was used by him to acquire the property from Vortex by way of purchasing its two shares.
ED, according to reports, has accessed emails exchanged between Bhandari and Robert Vadra which suggest that the latter is the actual owner of the property.
Soon after, this flat was sold by Bhandari’s firm to a company named Skylight FZE. This company is owned by none other than Thampi.
During a raid at Bhandari’s residence in Delhi in 2016, several secret defence documents were recovered. Soon after, he was booked by the Delhi police under the Official Secrets Act. In 2017, and fled to London.
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