Centre looking into report on Vadra's 'benami' house in UK

Centre looking into report on Vadra's 'benami' house in UK

The Finance Ministry is reviewing a probe report which claims that an arms dealer bought a "benami" mansion in London for Robert Vadra in 2009, according to a TV channel.

The report was prepared by tax and other investigating agencies after searching premises owned by Sanjay Bhandari, an arms dealer. Lawyers of Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, have denied the claims while the channel said Bhandari's office did not respond.

According to NDTV, the investigative report quoted from emails that were claimed to be sent by Vadra and his executive assistant Manoj Arora. It also has details about the questioning of Bhandari. The channel reported that the report showed that Vadra and Arora sent several emails discussing payments and renovations for the residence in Bryanston Square, which was bought in October 2009 and sold in June 2010.

Vadra "does not own directly or indirectly, a house described by you as No 12, Ellerton House, Bryanston Square, London" and that Vadra and his assistant "have not entered into any transaction of a financial nature with Sanjay Bhandari and are not even aware that Sanjay Bhandari is involved in any defence transaction", the channel quoted Vadra’s lawyers as saying.

Two separate reports by the agencies claimed that emails were sent by Vadra and Arora to Sumit Chadda, a relative of Bhandari, in London. In an email in April 2010, according to one of the reports, Chadda briefed Vadra about the progress of work of renovation and repair and asked for reimbursement of expenses. Vadra replied that Arora would handle the issue and the report said that Manoj kept in touch with Chadda, the channel reported.

BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said it is "shocking but not surprising" and that he would approach the Enforcement Directorate and I-T Department to probe the matter.

The report said Bhandari avoided a direct answer by stating that he would be able to confirm whether the house was owned by Vadra saying that he has to refer the sale deed kept with his lawyer in London.

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