Priyanka and Vadra, however, have not been named as accused. In the chargesheet, filed in a special PMLA court on Nov 21 against C C Thampi, co-accused along with the absconding Bhandari, ED said Priyanka, Vadra and Thampi bought 531 acres of land in Faridabad between 2005 and 2008 — 486 acres by Thampi, 40 by Vadra and 5 by Priyanka — all from Delhi-based real estate agent H L Pahwa.
The agency, which is still investigating the case, suspects huge cash transactions in the multiple land deals.
The ED said Vadra and Thampi are also being probed in another 12-acre land deal in Gautam Buddha Nagar in UP.
The agency said all three later sold the Faridabad land parcels to Pahwa, who in turn sold them to DLF group entities. The special PMLA court took cognizance of the supplementary chargesheet on December 22 and initiated the process of framing of charges against the accused.
Though Vadra is facing multiple money laundering investigations, this is the first time that the agency has mentioned Priyanka in connection with land deals involving other accused. The ED is probing Bhandari, Thampi and Vadra for alleged payoffs received in multiple defence deals, including India’s purchase of 75 trainer aircraft from Swiss company Pilatus.
The ED’s probe in the Pilatus deal found that alleged kickbacks of Rs 310 crore came into the accounts of Bhandari’s Dubai firm Offset India Solutions FZC. The ‘proceeds of crime’ were allegedly used to purchase properties in Dubai and London, the ED had earlier said, after it established a money trail of Rs 150 crore. The agency has attached Bhandari’s properties worth over Rs 26 crore in India and also filed a chargesheet against him.
The ED has also brought on record the close connections between Thampi and Vadra. “During the course of investigation in this case, it is found that a long and thick relationship exists between C C Thampi and Robert Vadra. Not only a personal/cordial bond but common and similar business interests are also found between them,” the ED said in the chargesheet.
Thampi, in his recorded statements to the ED, said he was introduced to Vadra by P P Madhavan, personal assistant to former Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Thereafter, he met Vadra several times in Dubai and at Taj Man Singh hotel in Delhi, besides some other hotels and restaurants in Delhi and Dubai.
The ED during the probe, it was found that “Robert Vadra incorporated entities with the names Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd and Sky Light Realty Pvt Ltd in India on November 1 and 16, 2007. An entity named Sky Lite Investment FZE in UAE was incorporated on April 1, 2009 with CT (CC Thampi) as its sole shareholder”.
The agency has also cited close coordination of Thampi and Vadra in connection with two properties, including the one at 12 Bryanston Square in London, acquired by Bhandari which was later transferred to Thampi’s shell firm in UAE.
“Investigation revealed that Sanjay Bhandari acquired this property in December 2009. He renovated the property as per the directions of Robert Vadra and the funds for renovation were provided by Robert Vadra. Later, the ownership of the property was changed to Sky Lite,” the ED said in the chargesheet.
Thampi also told the agency that he had stayed in this property “only two-three times and allowed Vadra to stay three-four times”.Watch ED names Congress Leader Priyanka Gandhi in money laundering case for the first time