BY ANAND SINGH
New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate is all set to tighten the noose around Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, as there are discrepancies in his and his associates’ statements.
A senior ED official told IANS that the statements made by Vadra during various sessions of questioning between February-March 2019 contradict the statements produced by his associates and counsels during the questioning in the case.
The official said, “When he appeared for the first time on February 6, Vadra had said that he could not categorically say he knew Puja Chadha. While on March 8, he told the officials that he did not know Chadha.
“The official said when Vadra was asked whether he knows Sumit Chahdha, a relative of arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, he said he has not met Sumit Chadha.
“Meanwhile, one of his associate said that Vadra knows Sumit Chadha,” the official said.
“To a question whether he knows Dubai-based businessman C.C. Thampi through whom the ED suspects kickbacks were routed in a petroleum deal in 2009, Vadra stated that he had met him on board an Emirates flight,” the official said, adding, “while Thampi stated that he met Vadra through Madhavan, personal assistant of Sonia Gandhi.”
The ED has recorded the statement of Thmapi on April 6 this year.
Pointing out another contradiction, the official said Vadra was asked whether he has any knowledge about 12 Bryanston Square (BSQ) property in London. “Vadra during questioning on February 7, replied that he has never stayed there. While Thampi in his statement on April 6 said that Vadra did stay at 12 BSQ in London,” the official said.
Another contradiction was raised on emails of Vadra from Sumit Chadha and Puja Chada. The official said that on February 6, Vadra agreed that a particular email ID belonged to him. However, the very next day he denied that these mails were written to him.
“On the contrary, the close aide of Vadra, Manoj Arora, who was also questioned by the ED on January 16, told the investigators that “email appears to have been sent by Sumit Chadha on the email ID of Vadra and only he can explain the content of the emails as these are addressed to him,” the official said.
The official said during questioning, Vadra denied he knew Vipul Beriwala.
“While Arora’s mobile has the contact number of Briwala saved in it,” he said.
The official then said that during questioning on March 8 this year, Vadra denied he knew Sanjeev Varma, while again the mobile phone of Arora has the contact of Verma.
Pointing out to another discrepancy, the official said when Vadra was asked if RV stands for his name in emails, he has stated that “he is not known as RV and people do not refer to him as RV”.
“While the mobile phone of Arora on January 31 said that the contact of MRV in his phone stands as Mr Robert Vadra,” he said.
The official then said that when on February 6 Vadra was asked if he knows Jagdish Sharma, he told the agency that Sharma hovers around him, follows him and tries to associate with him and has never worked for him.
“On the other hand, on December 8 last year, Sharma during his questioning stated that he is close to Gandhi family but he is closest to Vadra,” the official said.
“He said he does political profiling of Vadra and also advises him on various matters,” the official said.
Highlighting other discrepancies, the ED official said when Vadra was asked on February 7 if he is known as ‘sahab’, the husband of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, he stated that his subordinates refer to him as “boss”.
“While Sharma during questioning on December 10, stated that ‘sahab’ is referred to Vadra. And Anuj Nautiyal in his statement to the ED on December 8 stated that Sharma had told him that his ‘boss’ had invested in the foreign properties in question and Sharma referred to Vadra as his ‘boss’,” the official noted.
“Even Vadra has stated on March 8 that he is not referred as ‘Robert Saheb’, while Arora has stated that Vadra is also addressed as ‘Robert Saheb’ and ‘RV’,” the official said.
Besides, the discrepancies, the ED has also questioned Vadra whether he traveled with Bhandari to France. “Vadra has stated he was not sure,” the official said.
The official said that Vadra on February 9 also said that he cannot recollect the emails of Vishal Bajpai regarding the reservations made for him and Arora.
Vadra has also denied knowledge about the ownership of Columbyne Management Ltd. and that he knew Sanjay Dhir.
Vadra is being investigated by the financial probe agency in connection with a money laundering case involving foreign assets worth 1.9 million Great Britain Pound.
So far he has been questioned by the ED for over 14 times. A Delhi court on Monday allowed Vadra to travel to the Netherlands and the US for medical treatment for six weeks.
BY ANAND SINGH