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The case of arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and his alleged Robert Vadra links

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New Delhi, Nov 09: A London court on Monday approved India's request to extradite arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. He is to face trial for tax evasion and money laundering in India. The extradition would take place after UK Home Secretary, Stella Braverman gives her assent.

The case of arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and his alleged Robert Vadra links

When will Bhandari be brought to India:

India had requested for the extradition in 2019, following which the UK government forwarded the request to a relevant court in June 2020. It would take a couple of months before the Home Secretary gives her assent, following which Bhandari will have the option to appeal before a higher court.

Who is Sanjay Bhandari and what is his alleged link with Robert VadraWho is Sanjay Bhandari and what is his alleged link with Robert Vadra

The case against Bhandari:

Bhandari is under investigation by the Delhi Police, Income Tax Department, Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate in multiple cases. The first time he came under the scanner was when the IT raided his premises in 2016 in connection with a case of undeclared assets held by him abroad.

The case is a politically significant one as the cases against him have links with Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi.

During the raids, the IT Department recovered classified documents of the Ministry of Defence following which Bhandari was booked under the Official Secrets Act. Documents related to his properties in London suspected to be linked with Vadra were also recovered.

While the CBI was conducting a preliminary enquiry in 2016 into Bhandari's role in signing of the Pilatus aircraft deal for the Indian Air Force with a Swiss firm, the ED the following year registered a case under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The CBI had alleged that in the real Bhandari had allegedly received kickbacks. However by then Bhandari had left the country.

What the ED said on Bhandari:

The ED had in December 2017 seized assets and properties in South Delhi. Gold and jewellery worth more than Rs 26 crore had been seized. The ED had then in a statement said that Bhandari acquired movable/immovable assets worth more than Rs 150 crores outside India..., which included undisclosed deposits in foreign bank accounts in UAE in the various foreign currency denominations, beneficial ownership of companies incorporated in UAE.

The ED said that these companies were Offset India Solution FZC, Santech International FZC, Serra Dues Technologies, and Petro Global Technologies FZC. The alleged assets also included were also flats in Dubai and UK. "The investigation has also revealed routing of funds in various companies of Bhandari through accommodation entries provided by shell companies," The ED said.

Bhandari's link with Robert Vadra:

After seizing Bhandari's assets, the ED raided the premises associated with Skylight Hospitality, a firm that is linked with Vadra. The ED raid was in relation to money laundering that it had registered against Bhandari for holding undisclosed assets abroad.

The ED which questioned Vadra several times said that the matter was linked with a Petroleum Ministry deal in 2008 when the UPA was in power. It alleged that kickbacks were received by a UK based company name Santech, in which Bhandari was a director.

On June 13, 2009, in a single transaction, almost $49.9 lakh flowed into Santech's account and Bhandari used £1.9 million of this money to buy a property in London's Bryanston Square that same year, the ED told the court.

Bhandari then sold the property to an entity linked to Vadra in 2019 at the same price, even though he had carried out renovation that cost more than £65,000, the ED had said. Vadra has however denied any wrongdoing.

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