ED moves HC seeking cancellation of Vadra’s anticipatory bail

New Delhi | The ED on Friday moved the Delhi High Court seeking cancellation of anticipatory bail granted to Robert Vadra in a money laundering case, claiming that he was non-cooperative and evasive during the probe and may tamper with the evidence.

It sought quashing of the trial court’s April 1 order by which Vadra was granted anticipatory bail, saying the special judge failed to consider the settled position of law that bail should not be “granted in a routine manner”.

Filed through ED prosecutor D P Singh, the plea said the protection granted to Vadra — brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi — would be detrimental to investigation in the case on certain crucial aspects, including ascertaining the exact source of the alleged tainted money and the end use of the funds involved in the case.

The Enforcement Directorate’s plea is likely to be listed for hearing on Monday.

Besides Vadra, the agency has also challenged the anticipatory bail granted to Manoj Arora, an employee of Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality LLP and a co-accused in the case.

Vadra is facing allegations of money laundering in purchase of a London-based property at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million pounds.

The ED had alleged that Arora, a close aide of Vadra, was aware of his overseas undeclared assets and was instrumental in arranging funds.

Vadra and Arora’s separate pleas seeking quashing of the money laundering case are also pending before the high court.

In the plea, the agency contended that if Vadra is granted a blanket protection of bail, there is a likelihood that he may tamper with the evidence and the witnesses in the case and the trial court has failed to appreciate that he is a highly influential person.

It said Vadra is “non-cooperative” and “evasive” and he was given several opportunities to come out clean about his alleged role in the case but he remained evasive.

On the contrary, Vadra has “maliciously” claimed to be a victim of political vendetta and made all possible attempts to sensationalise the case, it added.

The ED said the other important aspects of the investigation are to unearth the entire source of credits for purchasing the properties and ascertaining all similar transactions in the accounts of the concerned entities, linked to this case and which have been a result of the alleged money laundering.

It said they also require to confront Vadra with voluminous incriminating material for bringing the investigation to a logical conclusion.

Recently, Vadra has approached a trial court seeking permission to travel abroad and his plea is pending.

The trial court, while granting anticipatory bail to Vadra, had directed him not to leave the country without prior permission and also to join the investigation as and when called by the investigating officer.

It had observed that Vadra’s office premises were searched on December 7 and 8, 2018 and voluminous documents running into nearly 20,000 pages were seized.

The ED had opposed Vadra’s application, saying he was “needed to be dealt with custodial interrogation and that there was a risk of tampering with the investigation”.

Vadra had earlier alleged in the trial court that he was being subjected to “unwarranted, unjustified and malicious criminal prosecution which on the face of it is completely politically motivated and is being carried out for reasons other than those prescribed under law”.

According to ED, it lodged the money laundering case against Arora after his role came up during the probe of another case by the Income Tax Department under the newly enacted Black Money Act and tax law against absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

It alleged that the London-based property was bought by Bhandari for GBP 1.9 million and sold in 2010 for the same amount despite incurring additional expenses of approximately GBP 65,900 on its renovation.

The ED had said it has received information about various new properties in London which allegedly belong to Vadra, including two houses of five and four million pounds each and six other flats.

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