The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has sought possession of a house in Delhi’s Sukhdev Vihar owned by a company linked to businessman Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, alleging that it was bought with the “direct proceeds of crime” pertaining to the Bikaner land scam case.
It has filed an application urging the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) tribunal to vacate the stay clamped by the appellate authority in August 2019 on any “coercive action” by the central agency against Vadra and his company, Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd, said people aware of the matter. ED had attached the house, registered in the company’s name, in February last year.
In its application, a copy of which has been seen by ET, the agency said “possession of the property is to be taken to prevent the person from enjoying such property”. It also made it clear that it would not accept an offer made by Vadra’s company to settle for a deposit of an amount corresponding to the value of the property, one of the persons cited earlier said on condition of anonymity.
According to the ED, the house was bought for nearly Rs 10 crore, of which Rs 4.43 crore was contributed by Vadra’s company. Therefore, if the tribunal vacates its stay, the agency will be able to claim partial possession of the house.
Vadra has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Bikaner land scam.
The ED is probing a case it had filed in September 2015 on the basis of a clutch of first information reports (FIRs) registered by the Rajasthan Police against main accused Jai Prakash Bagrwa and others. The accused allegedly got 1,422 bighas of government land illegally allotted to fictitious people under a scheme meant for rehabilitation of people in 34 villages of Bikaner district whose lands had been acquired by the Centre for setting up the Mahajan Field Firing Range.
In its application, filed through its counsel Nitesh Rana for vacation of stay, the ED contended that the tribunal is a statutory body formed under the PMLA and is “bound to act within the parameters provided under the Act and Regulations”.
Enforcement Directorate Allegations
It has argued that “granting stay in taking possession of the said property (268, Sukhdev Vihar house) is against the provisions” of PMLA (taking possession of attached or frozen properties confirmed by the adjudicating authority) Rules, 2013.
The application says that the tribunal granted stay in favour of Sky Light Hospitality “without authority of law” and that the “balance of convenience” lies in ED’s favour and against Vadra’s company. It says the “very purpose and objects of the PMLA will be defeated if the reliefs” demanded are not granted.
The ED had attached assets worth Rs 4.62 crore of Vadra’s company and four others in the land scam case.
The Rajasthan Police had registered 18 FIRs on charges of cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy and filed chargesheets in all the cases against Bagrwa and ten others in August 2015 and March 2017.
The ED has alleged that on detection of fraud, the illegally allotted lands were recorded back as government land in state revenue records. Its case is that these lands were illegally sold several times, generating considerable sums of profit, which it says are proceeds of crime as defined under PMLA.
Vadra’s company, according to the ED, had purchased 275 bighas of land fraudulently for Rs 72 lakh and subsequently sold for Rs 5.15 crore to Allegeny Finlease (P) Ltd, generating an illegal profit of Rs 4.43 crore. Besides Vadra, four other individuals had similarly generated an illegal profit of Rs 18.59 lakh, it has said.
The entire contents of this article are solely for information purpose and have been prepared on the basis of relevant provisions and as per the information existing at the time of the preparation by the Author. Compliance Calendar LLP and the Author of this Article do not constitute any sort of professional advice or a formal recommendation. The author has undertaken utmost care to disseminate the true and correct view and doesn’t accept liability for any errors or omissions. You are kindly requested to verify and confirm the updates from the genuine sources before acting on any of the information’s provided hereinabove. Compliance Calendar LLP shall not be responsible for any loss or damage in any circumstances whatsoever.