I-T dept questions Robert Vadra for second day in benami assets case

Robert Vadra | File

The Income Tax department questioned Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, for the second consecutive day on Tuesday in connection with its probe against him under the benami assets law, official sources said.

A team from the Chandigarh investigation unit of the department, that is handling the probe, was seen going inside Vadra's office in the Sukhdev Vihar area of the national capital around 3 PM.

Vadra is married to Congress leader and Sonia Gandhi's daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

After he was questioned on the first day on Monday, the 52-year-old had said the aim of the tax department's action was to "digress" from the "real issues" concerning the country like the farmers' agitation.

On Monday, he was questioned for about eight hours and his statement was recorded as part of the proceedings related to the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, sources had said.

Tax department sources had said Vadra was asked to join the investigation at their office but as he cited the prevailing COVID-19 restrictions, I-T officials decided to visit his premises.

Officials had said the questioning was linked to the purchase of some land parcels by a firm linked to Vadra in Rajasthan's border town of Bikaner in which another central probe agency, the Enforcement Directorate, had filed a money laundering case in 2015.

The ED has questioned Vadra in this case in the past and had attached assets worth Rs 4.62 crore of his firm Ms Sky Light Hospitality (P) Ltd (now LLP) in 2019.

Sources said the ED shared case documents of this probe along with that of possession of some alleged undisclosed assets abroad with the tax department for action under the anti-benami law that is enforced in the country by the latter.

"Everyone knows it is (political vendetta). Whenever Priyanka (his wife Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra) moves out for helping farmers...and other issues then whom will they (probe agencies) come to?" Vadra had said to reporters after the tax department team left.

"They will come to Robert Vadra. I don't want to go into political issues but they (government) are digressing from real issues...like the farmers issue," he had said.

Vadra had said he had "nothing to hide and worry about" and that the truth will prevail.

When reporters asked him if the latest questioning pertains to proceedings under the anti-benami law, he had said "it was general and nothing related to that (benami)."

The I-T department has also been probing Vadra on charges of alleged possession of some undisclosed assets in the UK.

The ED too is investigating these charges, under the anti-money laundering law, against the businessman.

The ED has accused Vadra of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million GBP (British pounds), which is allegedly owned by him and this transaction involves the role of absconding defence consultant Sanjay Bhandari.

Bhandari has never joined the I-T or ED probe in this case and is stated to be based abroad.

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