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ED attaches Rs21 crore assets of arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari

LiveMint logoLiveMint 01-06-2017 PTI

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets worth Rs21 crore, including commercial and residential properties in upscale Delhi localities, 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 (provisional) issued by the central probe agency under PMLA, which is based on the new anti-black money Act notified by the government in 2015. As per the scheme under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), any case registered by the ED under this stringent law has to be based on a prior scheduled offence.

In this case the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 was slapped against Bhandari by the Income Tax Department.

The agency said it has attached a shopping complex in the Panchsheel Park area, a residential property in Vasant Vihar and another in Gurgaon including jewellery and bank deposits in the name of Bhandari, his wife and his companies. The value of the attached assets is Rs21 crore, it said.

“The investigation revealed that Bhandari had acquired assets worth more than Rs150 crore outside India, which were not declared for taxation purposes before the Income Tax authorities,” the agency said in a statement.

Under the new anti-black money law, cases of overseas illegal assets, which till recently were probed under the Income Tax Act, 1961, attract a steep 120% tax and penalty on undisclosed foreign assets and income, besides carrying a jail term of up to 10 years. 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 income tax (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 ED added further probe in the case is ongoing.

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