ED attaches `21 cr assets of arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari
The ED has attached assets worth Rs 21 crore of controversial defence consultant and arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari in connection with a money laundering probe against him.
This is the first attachment of assets order issued by the central probe agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED took cognisance of the new anti- black money act that was notified last year to check the menace and catch hold of those who have stashed illegal funds or properties abroad.
The Income Tax Department had booked Bhandari under the new act, called the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.
Under this law, cases of overseas illegal assets, which till recently were probed under the Income Tax Act, 1961, attract a steep 120 per cent tax and penalty on undisclosed foreign assets and income, besides carrying a jail term of up to 10 years.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had booked Bhandari, reported to have left India for a foreign location sometime ago, under criminal charges of the PMLA law in February.
The Delhi Police had also booked him for alleged violation of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) last year.
Bhandari's case first came to light after the I-T department conducted searches against him in April last year and recovered certain "sensitive" official defence documents from his premises.
As part of these raids, the taxman is also said to have recovered certain emails that talk about renovation of a costly apartment in London in 2010 which was allegedly owned by Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Vadra's legal firm has denied that he owned the London property directly or indirectly. It also denied Vadra has any business ties with an arms consultant or his aides.
The tax department had last year also shared a "seizure memo record" with the defence ministry to apprise it about the contents of these "sensitive" documents.
The Enforcement Directorate said the assets, including commercial properties in Panchsheel Shopping Complex, Panchsheel Park, residential house in Vasant Vihar in south Delhi and another house in Gurugram, were registered in his name, his wife's name as well as the various companies he ran. Some jewellery and bank deposits of Bhandari were also seized.
Meanwhile, Karti returns from London
Karti Chidambaram, who is under CBI investigation for an alleged bribery and corruption case, on Thursday returned here from London.
Airport sources said Karti arrived by a British Airways flight around 4 am.
He had left for London on May 18 on what his father described as a scheduled trip.
"Karti is travelling as per earlier travel plans. There is no ban on his travel," his father and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram had said. The CBI on May 16 had carried out searches at Karti's homes and offices in four cities to probe charges that he had received money from a media firm owned by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea to help them evade a tax probe.
The CBI had filed an FIR against Karti and the Mukerjeas on charges of criminal conspiracy and influencing public servants. The CBI raided the residence of Chidambaram and his son Karti in Nungambakam in Chennai after registering an FIR.