Sanjay Bhandari tried to alienate assets in UK, says ED
Fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, after fleeing to the UK in 2016, met certain people in London and tried to alienate (or transfer ownership of) his foreign assets and companies by creating backdated documents in the name of a trust in the UAE, according to the charge sheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against him.
His Chartered Accountant, Sanjeev Kapoor, even travelled to London in February 2017 along with Sumit Chadha to meet Bhandari and get his signatures on the documents so that his assets could be linked to the trust, identified as Alrahma Trust, the charge sheet adds.
A Delhi court on Thursday took the cognizance of charge sheet, filed by ED on June 1, and directed the anti-money laundering probe agency to expedite extradition proceedings against Bhandari in the UK so that he can be brought to India to face trial. Bhandari is under investigation by multiple agencies – including ED, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Income Tax department, and Delhi Police for money laundering , violation of the foreign exchange , black money, and official secrets laws (he had access to sensitive defence documents). He fled to the UK via Nepal in December 2016.
UK authorities arrested him on July 15 on India’s extradition request after which he secured bail. A UK court has set June 7, 2021 as the date for the start of proceedings for Bhandari’s extradition. Proceedings to declare him as Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO) are also pending in an Indian court.
According to the ED charge sheet, details of which have been accessed by HT, companies linked to Bhandari – including Offset India Solutions FZC, Santech International FZC and others -- were receiving foreign income and owned foreign assets. “Bhandari intentionally didn’t disclose his foreign income and assets before the Income Tax department including the fact that he held shares worth 1,17,000 dirham, in Santech International,” says the ED charge sheet.
Undisclosed foreign properties such as those at C-303 Maurya Grandeur, Palm Jumeirahm, Dubai and 6 Grosvenor Hill Court, 15 Bourdon Street London were found to be in his name, the charge sheet added.
“Sanjay Bhandari tried to alienate these properties from those foreign assets owned by him and the company in which he is beneficial owner and controlled by him creating certain back dated documents related to a trust,” it added.
ED says that Bhandari was trying to use the trust structure in order to alienate his foreign assets and properties to conceal proceeds of crime and to project that those foreign assets were held by him in fiduciary capacity as a trustee of the trust.
For this purpose, Alrahma Trust in the UAE was identified, it said. Bhandari is also under the scanner for allegedly laundering money related to properties allegedly linked to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra in London, an investigation in which a NRI businessman C C Thampi was arrested by the ED in January this year. Vadra, who was questioned by ED in May last year, has repeatedly denied all the allegations against him.
CBI is also probing Bhandari’s roles in the Rs 2,895 crore deal for acquiring Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force in 2009. An Interpol red notice is also pending against him. Legal representatives of Bhandari, Kapoor, and Chadha could not be located by HT.