Bikaner land deal case: ED issues fresh summons against Vadra

Nov 30, 2018
New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has issued fresh summons to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra in an ongoing probe into the 2012 Kolayat land deal case, sources said.

An ED official told IANS: “We have issued fresh summons to Vadra to appear before the agnecy in the first week of December.”

The official said fresh summons were issued after Vadra failed to appear before the agency earlier this month. “Vadra himself did not appear on the last day and instead sent his legal representative with documents. We have told Vadra that we need to examine him personally and so he must depose before the agency,” the official said.

The ED action comes in the wake of a media report that a firm that gave loan to buy Vadra land at a premium got a big relief from the Income Tax Settlement Commission.

The report by The Indian Express said the ED, which is investigating a web of controversial land transactions in Bikaner involving Vadra’s companies, has asked the Income Tax Settlement Commission for details on its proceedings in the case related to Bhushan Power and Steel Limited, which gave a loan to a company that bought land owned by Vadra’s firm at seven times the acquisition cost.

The ED official also confirmed that the agency has asked the Income Tax Settlement Commission for details on its proceedings.

The ED has been probing the alleged scam in the purchase of land in Kolayat area of the border town of Bikaner in Rajasthan.

According to the ED officials, Skylight Hospitality had purchased 69.55 hectares of land for Rs 72 lakh and then sold it to Allegeny Finlease for Rs 5.15 crore, earning a profit of Rs 4.43 crore.

The agency registered a criminal case under the Money Laundering Act in 2015, taking cognizance of the case filed by the Rajasthan police after forgery allegations.

The agency had earlier issued notices to Skylight Hospitality but had not mentioned Vadra’s name or any company linked to him in its FIR.

According to the ED, during investigation it was found that Allegeny Finlease as a company was “not involved” in any “real business activities” and many of its share holders were found to be dummy or nonexistent.

The government had cancelled the mutation (transfer of land) of 374.44 hectares of land, after allotments were found to have been allegedly made in the names of “illegal private persons”.

Revenue officials had said in the complaint that government land in 34 villages of Bikaner that was meant to be used for expanding the Army’s firing range was “grabbed” by the land mafia by preparing “forged and fabricated documents” in connivance with government officials.

ED suspects that a huge amount of money was laundered in this case by people buying land at cheaper rates through forged documents.