Alleges company lent Sonia’s son-in-law crores to buy its own properties at below market price
Training its guns squarely at the Congress’ first family, India Against Corruption (IAC) on Friday asked how companies promoted by Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, came to acquire properties worth hundreds of crores of rupees in the Congress-ruled States of Haryana and Delhi over the past four years with a total share capital of only Rs. 50 lakh.
Seeking a probe into these acquisitions, IAC members Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal alleged that the companies owned by Mr. Vadra and his mother had no income from any known legitimate business activity, except by way of interest on an unsecured and interest-free loan obtained from the DLF construction company.
They charged Mr. Vadra with acquiring without any known sources of income during 2007-10 property worth well over Rs. 300 crore at the time of purchase — property whose value would today be more than Rs. 500 crore. The purchases were registered with the Registrar of Companies and can be accessed on their website, they said.
Asserting that there was a clear case for a probe under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Income Tax Act, Mr. Bhushan and Mr. Kejriwal questioned whether these agencies, controlled by the government, would investigate the ‘son-in-law of the ruling dynasty.’
“Had there been an independent Lokpal, the matter would have been investigated,” Mr. Kejriwal said at a news conference here.
When a questioner said allegations had been made against the Bhushans and Mr. Kejriwal himself, Mr. Kejriwal said: “Investigate us. Prove the allegations. Here we are producing documentary evidence but will the government do anything? We doubt it.”
Mr. Prashant Bhushan claimed Mr. Vadra was so confident that he would not be investigated that he went ahead and registered these properties with the Registrar of Companies.
In a response to media queries on IAC’s charges, DLF on Friday referred to a statement issued last year to The Economic Times in which it said, “The business relationship of DLF Group with Robert Vadra has been in his capacity as an individual entrepreneur and on a completely transparent and arm's length basis.”
In their press conference, Mr. Kejriwal and Mr. Bhushan provided details of the business relationship between the property giant and Mr. Vadra.
The seed money for his property acquisitions came from unsecured, interest-free loans to the tune of Rs. 65 crore given by DLF, they noted, alleging that DLF, in turn, sold a bulk of these properties to Mr. Vadra at a price far below the market price.
“Thus 7 flats in Magnolia Apartments in DLF Gurgaon are shown as purchased for a total of Rs. 5.2 crore by Vadra’s companies when the market price of each flat at the time of acquisition was well over Rs. 5 crore and today each flat is worth between Rs. 10 crore and Rs.15 crore. Similarly, a 10,000 sq. ft penthouse in DLF Aralias (Gurgaon) is shown to be purchased for Rs. 89 lakh when its market price at the time of purchase in 2010 was Rs. 20 crore, and is today worth over Rs. 30 crore Not just that, a stake of 50 per cent share in a DLF owned hotel in Saket [DLF Hilton Garden Inn] is shown to be purchased for Rs. 32 crore when the market value was well over Rs. 150 crore” said Mr. Prashant Bhushan.
Alleging a quid pro quo, he said it is was well known that DLF had been given 350 acres of land (acquired from farmers) by the Haryana government for the development of the Magnolia project in Gurgaon in which Mr. Vadra was given seven flats by DLF. “Why should DLF give large unsecured, interest-free loans to Mr. Vadra and then why should DLF sell its properties to Mr. Vadra at throwaway prices facilitated by the loans by the real estate company itself gave to Mr. Vadra? What is the source of these funds? Is it unaccounted black money or illicit funds of the Congress party that are being invested in these properties of Mr. Vadra?”
Reacting to the charges, party spokesman Rashid Alvi said if the IAC wanted they could approach the court.
On whether the IAC planned to approach the courts, Mr. Kejriwal shot back, “If the courts have to run the government, then the government should resign.”
Meanwhile, the Delhi government denied it had allotted or made available land to DLF. “The Delhi government is not in the business of allotting land to private entities,” said an official release.