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Robert Vadra Money Laundering Case

CC Thampi a UAE based NRI businessman is associated in the money laundering case of Robert Vadra as stated by the Enforcement Directorate. It all started last year in February when Robert Vadra during questioning by the Enforcement Directorate stated that he had met CC Thampi on an Emirates flight, whereas CC Thampi stated that he had met Robert Vadra through Sonia Gandhi’s personal assistant, PP Madhavan.

This difference in statements of both was used against Thampi. Thampi who owns a UAE based Skylight Investments and the Holiday Group. In order to remove any possible links between the companies owned by him and Robert Vadra, he changed his name of the company from Skylight Investments and the Holiday Group to Mayfair. As such CC Thampi, Robert Vadra’s close aide in money laundering was arrested last Friday on account of money laundering and acquisition of undisclosed foreign assets.

Background of the case
Robert Vadra, son-in-law, of Congress President Sonia Gandhi has been held by the Enforcement Directorate for the violation of Prevention of Money Laundering Act. According to the Enforcement Directorate, Robert Vadra has various undisclosed foreign assets worth 12 million pounds in London. Vadra directly or indirectly owns a total of 9 properties, of which 3 are villas, and rest are luxury flats.

These villas and flats were purchased between 2005 and 2010, when the UPA Party was in power. Vadra also owns certain property in Rajasthan and Haryana. Thus, Vadra has been called several times for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate. However, Robert Vadra has denied such allegations made against him and claims it as, ‘political witch hunt against him’. Robert Vadra was also accused of being involved in the Pilatus Defence Deal with Sanjay Bhandari (arms dealer). Later on, Sanjay Bhandari was also charged under Official Secrets Act,1923.

Legal provisions involved
This case involves a lot of legal provisions under which CC Thampi, Robert Vadra’s aide has been arrested, and under which Robert Vadra himself has been held responsible by the Enforcement Directorate due to which he has been called many times for questioning by the Investigating Officer, such as:

  1. Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
  2. Foreign Exchange Management Act, 2000

CC Thampi who is considered as the chief aide of Robert Vadrawas arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. Vadra was summoned for questioning by the Investigating Officer under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and Foreign Exchange Management Act, 2000

Developments in the case so far
Initially a BJP MP Nishikant Dubey raised the issue in the zero hour in parliament and asked the government to look into the matter of benami properties or illegal properties possessed by Robert Vadra worth 12 million pounds in London. He also alleged that there was a certain link between Robert Vadra and the arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari who were jointly involved in the illegal possession of foreign assets. After the investigations were started it was alleged by the Enforcement Directorate of possessing illegal and undisclosed foreign assets in London worth 12 million pounds, Vadra was called for questioning.

He was first asked to appear before the Investigating Officer in the earlier weeks of February, 2019, wherein his statements were recorded under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. The two sessions of questioning on February 6 and 7 lasted for about 14 hours. Thereafter has been called multiple times for questioning. He was also called for questioning for possessing land illegally in Bikaner and Haryana. Mr Vadra had in May, 2019, sought for anticipatory bail in order to travel abroad for business work. However, the Enforcement Directorate had raised an objection against the anticipatory bail that was awarded to him. The Enforcement Directorate had requested for his custody as he would often refuse to cooperate with the investigation team. The questioning of Robert Vadra continued in the start of the year as well and thus when there were contrary statements provided by him and his close aide CC Thampi as to how they had met each other, the ED arrested Thampi. The question of whether Mr Vadra can be awarded Anticipatory bail is yet to be decided by the High Court.

Probable Future
The case of whether Mr Vadra must be given anticipatory bail or not is yet to be decided by the Delhi High Court, as the Enforcement Directorate stated that the trial court did not look into the gravity of the allegations against him, and that providing him bail would mean giving him the opportunity to tamper the evidence and influence the witnesses. Since all these crimes were committed under the UPA government, and the accused Robert Vadra is a close relative of the Congress President, and thus the crimes committed by him must have been known to the then government. However, it failed to take substantial measures and set an investigation enquiry on him. Thus, the actions which were not taken previously will be diligently taken by the current government.

Fraud in any sense committed against the citizens of the country must be punished. Probably in future after the questioning of Mr Vadra, Sanjay Bhandari, CC Thampi, and other witnesses, and the examining of the documents is done the authorities will take due action against those responsible. The current government is free from any kind of bias and thus will make sure that the criminals are punished.

Conclusion
The fact that the crimes were committed during when the UPA party was in power shows their inability to tackle such fraud matters, and them favouring a criminal only on the basis of him being their relative. So, this in turn sets a precedent that people closely related to the government can commit any form of crime freely in the country or abroad without any fear of being caught. This tampers the image of our country abroad.

Fraud or any kind of crime committed especially against the country or the citizens must be investigated and the accused should be punished. If the government fails to take appropriate action against such people then the citizens of the country will not respect the laws and the judiciary of the country.

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