In a massive victory for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), U.K. authorities arrested fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. Top sources in the agency have confirmed to Republic TV that Bhandari was arrested on July 15 on the extradition request of ED. Bhandari was later released on bail after furnishing a surety of 1 million pound.
The extradition proceedings of Bhandari is underway. After Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, Bhandari is the third fugitive whose extradition proceedings are taking place in London. Republic Media Network was the first media network in the country to have tracked and confronted Sanjay Bhandari in April 2019. Bhandari had refused to answer questions posed by Republic TV’s special investigation team.
In India, meanwhile, the courts took cognizance of the charge sheet on Friday. A prosecution complaint was filed on June 1 against Bhandari and other co-conspirators for the offences of money laundering under section 3 of PMLA. Top sources have confirmed that businessman Robert Vadra has been named in the chargesheet, but not as an accused. A complaint under Section 51(1) of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income & Assets) and Imposition of Act, 2015 Black Money Act was filed against accused Sanjay Bhandari by Income Tax authorities.
“It was revealed that accused Sanjay Bhandari stashed black money abroad with the assistance of his accomplices to evade taxes causing huge financial loss to the national exchequer,” read the release issued by ED.
According to the agency, during their investigation, they found that Sanjay Bhandari incorporated various entities in UAE as owner / beneficial owner and also had a financial interest in entity incorporated in Panama.
It was also revealed that all those foreign assets and entities were not disclosed by Sanjay Bhandari to the Income Tax authorities. Bhandari has been under the scanner for various deals that were struck during the UPA era. A search was conducted at the premises of Sanjay Bhandari by IT authorities in April 2016. Searches resulted in the recovery of documents including property at 12 Bryanston Square Ellertob House by Sanjay Bhandari.
The investigation was initiated under PMLA as the offence of willful attempt to evade any tax, penalty, or interest referred in section 51 of the Black Money Act. According to the findings of the agency, from the complaint filed under Black Money Act, it was noticed that the US $4.9 million was received on June 13, 2008, in the undisclosed bank accounts of Santech International FZC in Dubai, a company owned by Bhandari.
A company SkyLite Investment was floated in April 2009 by one CC Thampi for the purpose of acquiring immovable assets.
No actual business was conducted in this company. Bhandari identified a property, Villa D-44 Palm Jumeriah Dubai, to be purchased through Sky Lite Investment FZE for Arab Emirates Dirham 8.6 million in Nov 2009. This transaction did not materialise but the fact remains that this transaction about the property to be purchased in the name of SkyLite Investment of Thampi was monitored by Bhandari as the draft MoU for purchase was sent by the buyers to Bhandari and not to Sky Lite Investments.
After this deal did not materialise, Bhandari identified and purchased London property by acquiring 100 percent share of Vortex Management Holdings, the British Virgin Islands-based company by making payment from the account of Santech International FZC, Bhandari's company.