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Bikaner land case: Robert, mother questioned on second day in PMLA

Bikaner land case: Robert, mother questioned on second day in PMLA
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. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Robert Vadra and his 75-year-old mother Maureen Vadra on Wednesday deposed before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for the second consecutive day in a money laundering case involving the Bikaner land deal case. Vadras appeared before the ED office here around 10.40 a.m.

They were questioned for over eight hours on Tuesday under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. According to an ED source, On Tuesday, 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 source disclosed that Vadra was also asked about the business and transactions of his company. He was also questioned about how much lands he bought, and whether he took loans to buy the land in Bikaner. The ED officials also grilled Vadra if he knew about the involvement of Kumar in the case and when Nagar informed him about the forgery of documents to buy those lands.

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 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 Allegheny 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 the 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 a 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 allegations 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.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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