Bikaner land deal: ED attaches properties worth crores involving Vadra’s company

In a major blow to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra, who was questioned twice by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case involving the Bikaner land deal, the agency on Friday attached the properties related to his company Skylight Hospitality in Delhi.

A senior ED official said the agency has attached Skylight Hospitality Pvt Ltd., which has now been named as Skylight Hospitality LLP’s property in Delhi’s Sukhdev Vihar. Its worth is Rs 4.43 crore.

Besides the Delhi property, the agency also attached movable properties worth Rs 18.59 lakh pertaining to four persons linked to the Bikaner land deal case.

The agency claimed that Skylight Hospitality (P) Ltd had purchased 275 bigha (69.55 hectare) fraudulent land for Rs 72 lakh and sold the same for Rs 5.15 crore to Allegeny Finlease Pvt. Ltd., illegally generating profit of Rs 4.43 crore.

The four other individuals too generated a profit of Rs 18.59 lakh in the sale of impugned fraudulent land.

The agency had earlier attached properties worth Rs 1.82 crore and filed a chargesheet before the Special PMLA court against nine accused.

So far, the total attachment by ED in the case is worth Rs 6.44 crore.

Vadra, along with his 75-year-old mother Maureen Vadra, was questioned for the first time in the land deal case on Tuesday for over eight hours in Jaipur. However, on Wednesday, Vadra was also questioned alone for over eight hours by the agency sleuths in Rajasthan capital.

The ED has been probing the alleged irregularities in the purchase of land in Kolayat area of the border town of Bikaner in Rajasthan, which was meant for those displaced due to Army’s field firing range.

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 had surfaced that Allegeny Finlease as a company was “not involved” in any “real business activities” and many of its shareholders were found to be dummy or non-existent.

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, which 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.

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

Vadra was also questioned for over 24 hours last week in Delhi for three days — Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday — in a separate money laundering case.