Delhi court sends Thampi to jail in PMLA case

Delhi court sends C C Thampi to jail in PMLA case related to Robert Vadra

AFP file photo of Robert Vadra

A Delhi court Tuesday sent NRI businessman C C Thampi to judicial custody in a money laundering probe related to a case against Robert Vadra for acquisition of alleged illegal assets abroad.

Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar sent Thampi, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the case, to jail till February 7 while rejecting the probe agency's request for his further custodial interrogation in the case involving Vadra, son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

The case relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property -- located at 12, Bryanston Square -- worth 1.9 million pounds, which is allegedly owned by Vadra.

The court also reserved for Wednesday the order on his bail application, which said that Thampi was not required for further interrogation and no purpose will be served by keeping him in custody.

The application was opposed by ED's advocate Amit Mahajan and N K Matta, who said that the probe was at initial stage and if released, he may hamper the ongoing investigation.

The agency, also represented by advocate Atul Tripathi, told the court that the pre-arrest bail of the co-accused -- Vadra and his close aide Manoj Arora -- has been challenged.

Another co-accused, Sanjay Bhandari, is absconding and red corner notice (RCN) has been issued against him, the agency further submitted.

Thampi was arrested by the ED on January 18. He is stated to be "controlling" Dubai-based company Sky Lite. In 2009, Bhandari's firm Santech FZE purchased a London asset from a private company which was acquired by Sky Lite.

Vadra is alleged to have acquired this London-based asset, and few purported emails between him and Bhandari regarding renovation of the London flat are part of the evidence in the case.

The ED claimed that Thampi met Vadra through an aide of his mother-in-law, while the latter reportedly told the probe agency that he only met him on board an Emirates flight some years ago.

Thampi, during his earlier grilling session with the ED, claimed that Vadra had stayed at the Bryanston Square property in London. Vadra, in his statement made to the agency, denied the claim.

ED said Thampi's arrest and subsequent custodial grilling will unravel the "missing links" in the case where the ED has charged Vadra with acquiring illegal assets abroad in coordination with Bhandari.

Thampi has been charged by the agency in the past in alleged illegal hawala dealings and land purchase case in the country in 2017 in alleged contravention of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

It had also issued a FEMA show cause notice to Thampi for alleged violation of foreign exchange laws to the tune of over Rs 1,000 crore in the purchase of vast tracts of land in Kerala.

The firms that are being investigated by the ED, as part of the two FEMA show cause notices issued against him, include Holiday City Centre Private Limited, Holiday Properties Private Limited and Holiday Bekal Resorts Private Limited.

The ED said Thampi is also under the scanner for his reported dealings with some politicians and bureaucrats.

The agency earlier told a court that it had received information about various new properties in London which belong to Vadra. These include two houses -- one worth 5 million GBP and the other valued at 4 million GBP, six other flats and more properties.

Vadra has consistently denied these charges and has said he will cooperate in the probe.

He has also said that he was being "hounded and harassed" to subserve political ends.

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