The Enforcement Directorate apprehended CC Thampi, a UAE based NRI businessman on last Friday who is purported to be a close man of congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. He is also a close aide of arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and has been accused of obtaining agricultural land by supposedly bypassing laws under FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act).
Thampi’s abduction was necessitated in the ongoing probe of Robert Vadra money laundering case comprising foreign assets worth 1.9 million pounds in UK and procurement of concealed foreign assets associated with Vadra. Thampi is being scrutinised for forex infringement of Rs 1,000 crore.
Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Rahul Gandhi, has rebuffed any malpractice in this case. During the interrogation with ED last year, Vadra had declared that he had met Thampi in an Emirates flight. On the contrary, during the interrogation in connection with another case in 2017 by ED, Thampi had supposedly declared his connection with Vadra through Sonia Gandhi’s personal assistant P P Madhavan.
Posterior to this discrepancy in the statements of the duo, Thampi controlling UAE-based Skylight Investments and the Holiday group had been mousetrapped by the agency.
Looking at the chronology of events taking place, the ED declared that Thampi, the 100% stakeholder of Skylight Investments FZE, reassigned its shareholding to his nephew Vadakkthela Cheru Geevar in 2011 without any financial payback and altered the name of the company to Mayfair Investment FZE is an endeavour to abolish the connections amongst the name of companies of Vadra in India and UAE. The alteration in the property was made because of making the beneficial owner unblemished but Geevar was working as a driver in UAE at that time. When IT break-in on Sanjay Bhandari came to the notice in April 2016, Mayfair organisation was again reassigned to a UAE civil in June 2016.
ED urged Robert Vadra to submit his bank statements validating the funds spent on his offshore trips and also asked him to provide the contact details of his stated alliances – Jagdish Sharma and CC Thampi – travel agents, proof of payments for tickets, hotels and other expenses during his visits abroad.
Robert Vadra Case Timeline
Robert Vadra was booked for DLF land grab case by Arvind Kejriwal in October 2011. He was incriminated to avail an interest-free loan of 650 million and big discounts from DLF Limited in exchange for political assistance. According to DLF, Vadra as a private entrepreneur, took a business advance for the land and the company did not sell him any land at a discounted price. Many organisations have questioned the credibility of Vadra owned companies which stated to have got an overdraft of Rs. 7.21 from Corporation Bank. Whereas Corporation bank refused any such transaction with Vadra.
In February 2019, Vadra and his mother Maureen were booked under a 2015 case of illegal land transactions in Kolayat area of Bikaner. Vadra’s organisation Skylight Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. was charged by the Enforcement Directorate for the purported purchase of 28 acres land in intrigue with Rajasthan government officials at sub-market rates (7.2 million) and then trying to sell it at an exceptionally higher price to achieve illegal revenues. Under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2016, the company had been circulated a notice. Eventually, the company knocked the doors of Delhi High Court and Supreme Court in 2018 for the inspection of their transactions. Later, the prosecution asked Vadra to appear before the ED and cooperate in hearings. Posterior to the interrogations held with Vadra before ED, the ED associated the assets of Vadra’s company Skylight valued at 46.2 million.
Robert Vadra’s Background
Robert Vadra is an Indian entrepreneur who runs brass and wood handicrafts business. He is the spouse of Priyanka Gandhi, born to Scottish mother named Maureen and to Indian father named Rajendra Vadra in Punjabi Khatri family. Robert’s father Rajendra Vadra hails from Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh whereas his mother is of Scottish origin. Rajendra has moved from Sialkot (now in Pakistan) during partition. He is also the son-in-law of late Rajiv Gandhi (the former Prime Minister of India) and Sonia Gandhi (the former president of Indian National Congress). He is the brother-in-law of Rahul Gandhi (the president of the Indian National Congress who has emerged from a family of political leaders, popularly known as the Nehru-Gandhi family).
Vadra studied at British School, New Delhi and is a high school educated only. His wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra studied at Modern School and Covent of Jesus and Mary College. She accomplished her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi and later obtained a Master’s degree in Buddhist studies.
From 2000 to 2010, Robert has faced with many disappointments and mishappenings in his family. He had two siblings—brother Richard Vadra and sister Michelle Vadra. In 2001, he lost his sister who met with a road accident. In 2003, his brother ended his own life and in 2009, his father’s dead body was found in a Delhi motel.
Robert Vadra is invincible in terms of fashion and fitness and he is passionate about luxury cars like Mercedes, BMW, Land Rover, Jaguar and Porsche Panamera and bikes like Suzuki Intruder, Suzuki Boulevard, etc. He has always been a style quotient and has also been honoured with the Best Dressed Man award by an English newspaper in 2011.
Robert met Priyanka when she was 13 years old through his sister in 1985. He supported her and Rahul in their tough times after the assassination of his father Rajiv Gandhi. Soon, Rahul and Robert came close to each other as both were fitness freaks. In the meantime, Robert and Priyanka also started dating and fell in love. They decided to tie knots in 1997. Though Robert’s father was not happy with this relationship initially, later both took the vows with the consent of their families. The venue for the wedding ceremony was Gandhi house with the gathering of only 150 guests. The couple is blessed with two children—daughter Miraya Vadra and son Raihan Vadra.
Robert ventured into many businesses related to handicrafts, real estate and hospitality whose director is his mother Maureen Vadra.
He has been involved in many political controversies because of his connections with the Gandhi family. Many opposition parties have lifted their fingers on Robert Vadra also. Various Indian politicians have also put allegations on Robert for CWG scams of over Rs 10,000 crores but failed to prove it.
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