New Delhi: The ED has arrested NRI businessman C.C. Thampi in connection with its money laundering probe against Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, and absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari in a case related to the acquisition of alleged illegal assets abroad, officials said on Monday.
Thampi is stated to be “controlling” a Dubai-based company Sky Lite. In 2009, Bhandari’s firm Santech FZE purchased a London asset from a private company that was acquired by Sky Lite.
Vadra is alleged to have acquired this London-based asset, and few purported emails between him and Bhandari, regarding the renovation of this flat, are part of the evidence in the case.
The agency claims Thampi met Vadra through an aide of his mother-in-law, while the latter reportedly told the Enforcement Directorate that he only met him on board an Emirates flight some years ago.
Thampi, during his earlier grilling session with the ED, claimed that Vadra had stayed at the Bryanston Square property in London. Vadra, in his statement made to the agency, denied the claim.
The agency arrested Thampi on Friday under the provision of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after he was summoned in the case, they said.
He was produced before a court here on Saturday which remanded him to three-day ED custody. The agency is expected to produce him before the court on Tuesday.
It is understood that his arrest and subsequent custodial grilling will unravel the “missing links” in the case where the ED has charged Vadra with acquiring illegal assets abroad in coordination with Bhandari.
Thampi has been charged by the agency in the past in alleged illegal hawala dealings and land purchase case in the country in 2017 in alleged contravention of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
It had also issued a FEMA show-cause notice to Thampi for alleged violation of foreign exchange laws to the tune of over Rs 1,000 crore in the purchase of vast tracts of land in Kerala.
The firms that are being investigated by the ED, as part of the two FEMA show-cause notices issued against him, include Holiday City Centre Private Limited, Holiday Properties Private Limited, and Holiday Bekal Resorts Private Limited.
Agency sources had said the NRI businessman is also under the scanner for his reported dealings with some politicians and bureaucrats.
The ED case against Vadra relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million GBP (British pounds), which is allegedly owned by him.
The agency earlier told a court that it had received information about various new properties in London which belong to Vadra. These include two houses – one worth 5 million GBP and the other valued at 4 million GBP, six other flats and more properties.
Vadra has consistently denied these charges and has said he will cooperate in the probe. He said he was being “hounded and harassed” to subserve political ends.