In a crucial development, the Ministry of Defence, has banned all business dealings for an indefinite period of time with fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari who is also being probed in Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra’s alleged London properties case.
Bhandari has been allegedly involved in multiple defence deals during the UPA regime and it as alleged that the money received by him as kickbacks in the Pilatus ( 75 Pilatus PC-7 basic trainer aircraft) defence deal, was routed through shell companies and benami properties were bought in London, allegedly owned by Robert Vadra.
According to order copy of Ministry of Defence, “It has been decided with the approval of competent authority to extend the period of suspension of business dealings with Offset India Solutions (P) Ltd and it’s groups companies/functionaries until further orders. All wings of the ministry and service headquarters are requested to ensure strict compliance of the decision.”
Bhandari’s company Offsets India Solutions (OIS) was barred from business with MoD for the first time in February 2018 for six months but in the new order it has been suspended until any further decision.
Enforcement Directorate which is probing a case against defence dealer Sanjay Bhandari wants custodial remand of Priyanka Gandhi’s husband. The probe agency claims that Sanjay Bhandari received kickbacks in petro and defence deals. Bhandari is in London and India has been trying to bring him back.
What are these two deals involving Bhandari?
Enforcement Directorate is probing a petro-chemical complex which ONGC decided to build a special economic zone in 2008. ONGC commissioned Samsung Engineering to build a part of the project. Samsung hired Sanjay Bhandari’s Dubai based firm Santech International FZC. The contract was awarded to Samsung in December 2008 and the company paid Santech US $ 49,90,000 in June 2009.
Sanjay Bhandari’s Santech International then purchased a property , 12 Bryanston Square London in June 2009. This property was registered in the name of Vortex Private Limited. Santech transferred 1.9 million pound sterling in Vortex account. Later all shares of Vortex private limited were purchased by Sky Lite Investments FZE Dubai which is controlled by C Thampi , reportedly a close aide of Robert Vadra.
Email correspondence between Sanjay Bhandari, Summit Chadha (London based relative of Sanjay), Manoj Arora and Robert Vadra showed that he (Vadra) had a keen interest in this property and was interested in knowing all about the renovation work that was being carried out.
ED claims Bhandari incurred an additional expense of 65900 pound sterling but still sold the 12 Bryanston Square property for 1.9 million pound sterling to Mayfair FZE Sharjah, Dubai. The agency has called this a classic case of round tripping where several shell companies were used (a) to sign sham contracts (b) show kickbacks as genuine consultancy (c) buy expensive real estates abroad (d) siphon off the bribe money.
During the three month hearing Enforcement Directorate also informed the court about other properties whose beneficial owner was Robert Vadra this include two houses in London worth 5 million pound, 4 million pound and six flats.
The Other deal under the scanner of Enforcement Directorate is Pilatus deal. Purchase of basic trainer aircraft for Indian Air Force. CBI has already filed a Preliminary Enquiry in this case, which involved purchase of 75 Pilatus PC-7 basic trainer aircraft. The deal was worth Rs 2896 crore. In 2008 Bhandari sets up Offset Solutions. In 2010, Offset signed a deal with Pilatus. Documents with ED showed that in total 7,50,000 Swiss Franc were paid by Pilatus to Bhandari for consultancy. This period also coincides with the time when Bhandari was purchasing real estate in London.
Robert Vadra: Questioned eight times
Manoj Aroroa: Close aide of Vadra and has been quizzed several times
Jagdish Sharma: Congress leader. Vadra friend. Questioned four times
Sanjay Bhandari: He was raided first by IT in 2015. Was booked by Delhi Police in an OSA case. Fled India in October 2016. Now in London
C Thampi: Dubai based NRI. Was quizzed first in 2017 in Gurugam land scam. Has not joined the probed since January 2019. Claims he is suffering from cancer and is being treated in USA
Summit Chadha: Cousin of Sanjay Bhandari. Looked after the London properties. Was in touch, via email, with Robert Vadra and Manoj Arora.