Bikaner land deals: Robert Vadra, mother questioned for 8 hours, told to appear again on Wednesday (Lead)
Tuesday - February 12, 2019 10:50 pm , Category : BUSINESS
Jaipur, Feb 12 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is investigating a web of controversial land transactions in Bikaner allegedly involving Robert Vadra's companies, on Tuesday questioned him for over eight hours about his relations with some land dealers.Robert Vadra and his mother, Maureen, who was also questioned on Tuesday, have been asked to appear again before the agency on Wednesday morning, according to an agency source.Robert and Maureen Vadra on Tuesday morning appeared before the ED officials in Jaipur around 10.40 a.m and left the agency's office at 8.30 p.m.They were questioned under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).Robert and Maureen, were accompanied to the ED office here by his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who rushed from Lucknow to be with the family. Later in the day, she returned to Lucknow where she did a road show on Monday.The ED source said that Vadra was given a set of questions about how he knew Mahesh Nagar, an authorised representative of Skylight Hospitality LLP, owned by Robert Vadra and his 75-year-old mother. Nagar is the person who links Vadra's company with Ashok Kumar, who was named in the chargesheet filed by the Rajasthan Police in the case.In December 2017, the ED had arrested Ashok Kumar, a close associate of Nagar, and another person, Jaiprakash Bagarwa. The ED had searched the premises of both Kumar and Nagar in April 2017.According to ED officials, Nagar was the authorised representative in four cases of land purchase in Bikaner.Kumar, the agency alleged, had purchased land in the same area, using the "power of attorney" of others.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 the Army's field firing range.According to the ED officials, Skylight Hospitality had purchased 69.55 hectares of land for Rs 72 lakh and then sold it to Allegeny Finlease for Rs 5.15 crore, thus making a profit of Rs 4.43 crore.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 Robert 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.