New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday carried out searches against three people linked to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra in connection with its probe into alleged “commissions received by some suspects in defence deals” and illegal assets stashed abroad, officials said.
This is for the first time that Vadra’s associates have been linked to alleged commissions received in defence deals by the ED. The raids that began around 12 noon were carried out at multiple premises in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru, they said. In Delhi, the raids were carried out in the Sukhdev Vihar area apart from neighbouring Noida and Ghaziabad. However, Vadra’s lawyer Suman Khaitan said ED officers “are inside his client’s premises since 8/9 AM”.
The action was underway till late night and the three unidentified people were being questioned by ED sleuths, sources said. “The searches are being carried out at the premises of two employees of firms linked to Vadra and another person. These people are suspected to have received commissions out of a defence deal and they subsequently invested these funds to acquire illegal assets abroad,” an ED source claimed. The sources said they have some “fresh evidence” to initiate the latest action in the case that could be about 1-2 years old and linked to a controversial arms dealer who is absconding.
They, however, did not disclose the names of the people whose premises were searched or the defence deal under their scanner stating that the “action was ongoing”. The raids came three days after the CBI extradited Christian James Michel, the alleged middleman in Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, from the UAE. The searches left Vadra’s lawyer Suman Jyoti Khaitan fuming. He alleged that the ED teams entered the premises of associates of his client without showing “search warrants”.
He claimed that the premises were locked from inside and questioned the government’s motive behind it. Khaitan went on to claim that probably evidence was being fabricated. The Congress reacted sharply to the ED action and said an “unnerved” Modi government was unleashing “vendetta” against party chief Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law to divert the narrative. “Sure shot defeat in 5 States unnerves Modi Govt to again use the old tools – unleash revenge and vendetta against Mr. Robert Vadra to divert the narrative,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Twitter. “Such cowardice and intimidation will not subjugate either the Congress Party or the will of people,” he said.