A Delhi court on Saturday extended till February 6 the interim protection from arrest granted to Manoj Arora, a close aide of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, in a money laundering case.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told Special Judge Arvind Kumar that Arora was cooperating in the probe.
“He joined the probe yesterday. So far he is cooperating,” Special Public Prosecutor D P Singh, appearing for the ED, said.
ED’s Special Public Prosecutor Nitesh Rana sought two more weeks for arguments on the application which was allowed by the court.
Rana said it remained to be seen if Arora would cooperate further.
The case relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property — located at 12, Bryanston Square — worth 1.9 million pounds, which is allegedly owned by Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
In the last hearing, Arora had alleged before the court that the case was foisted on him by the NDA government out of “political vendetta”.
However, the ED refuted the allegations, asking that “should no authority investigate any political bigwig because that will be called a political vendetta?”
The agency had told the court that it lodged the money laundering case against Arora after his role came up during the probe of another case by the Income Tax Department under the newly-enacted Black Money Act and tax law against absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.
It said the London-based property was bought by Bhandari for GBP 1.9 million and sold in 2010 for the same amount despite incurring additional expenses of approximately GBP 65,900 on its renovation.
“This gives credence to the fact that Bhandari was not the actual owner of the property but it was beneficially owned by Vadra who was incurring expenditure on the renovation of this property,” the ED had told court.
Arora, an employee of Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality LLP, was a key person in the case and he was aware of the latter’s overseas undeclared assets and was instrumental in arranging funds, it had said.