Robert Vadra corruption, as alleged by Arvind Kejriwal is the talk of the town. Well-connected inpiduals in the Delhi NCR region had been talking about the influence that Robert Vadra wields in the real estate market it in hushed voices and subdued tones for many years.
The Economic Times was the first major media publication to report about Robert Vadra's wealth in 2011. BJP, the principal opposition party deliberately chose not to rake up this issue after this news story was published. It is said that they too have similar skeletons in their closet and agitating on the Robert Vadra quick financial growth would have hurt them as well.
The issue is hot and I am sure that much more information is going to come out over an extended period of time. In this post, I keep a track of the various important media reports that reveal unique details, so as my website visitors can have an easy reference source. If you have anything to share on this particular issue, please send to me the contribution.
There is much to explain by Robert Vadra and he should do it in person. Not hide behind Congress party or DLF. He should rebut each allegation point by point instead of questioning the locus standi of the allegation makers.
The average price paid by Vadra for these purchases works out to Rs 2.6 lakh an acre, even as his firm paid up stamp duty on the official collector rate of Rs 16 lakh an acre. Collector rates are considered the base price for sale of land for revenue purposes and are usually far below the market price of the land.
Kejriwal added that Punjab and Haryana High Court had passed strictures against the Haryana government, terming its action "mala fide" and showing a "nexus". Following Kejriwal's allegations, the Haryana government had denied that it had granted favours to DLF. The Haryana government said Tuesday that the 30-acre land was owned by East India Hotels (EIH) and was transferred by it to DLF in 2005. It said the high court had quashed the land sale in February 2011 and the matter was pending in the Supreme Court.
The opposition BJP has snatched the controversy over Mr Vadra's transactions with DLF to demand an independent inquiry. Today, BJP leader Shanta Kumar wrote to Arvind Kejriwal congratulating him for his "expose". Mr Kumar also said that a separate inquiry should determine how and why rules were relaxed to allow Priyanka Gandhi to buy nearly an acre of land near Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, a state which does not allow non-residents to own property within its borders - she was granted the land in two tranches, reportedly; first by the Congress government in 2007 and then by the BJP's PK Dhumal, currently the state's chief minister.
"He is hiding behind DLF and the Congress . He should come in the open and clarify charges against him," Kejriwal told reporters here.
Reacting to Vadra's remarks that he and Prashant Bhushan were maligning him and his family to "gain cheap publicity", Kejriwal said, "Robert Vadra has questioned our motives that is not important. He has not replied to the questions that we have raised."
They accused Vadra of increasing his wealth from Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 300 crore in three years by related stories Modi may target Vadra in his poll campaign Anna asks Congress to probe Vadra; FM calls it private deal Kejriwal says ready for defamation case if charges against Vadra false As politics heats up, Robert Vadra says can handle negativity Modi may raise Vadra issue in campaign receiving an "unsecured, interest-free loan of Rs. 65 crore" from real estate giant DLF to buy properties at very cheap prices from the same company.
The curious dealings of Robert Vadra have become even more curious, with a bank mentioned in the balance sheet of one of his companies denying it ever undertook a transaction clearly stated in the firm’s auditor’s report.
....More at Who to believe: Vadra's bank or balance sheet?
Robert Vadra today dismissed as "utterly false, entirely baseless and defamatory" allegations over his property dealings with DLF and said he was saddened by attempt of activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan to malign him and his family to "gain cheap publicity".
The owners of DLF have strong ties with the Gandhi family that go as far back as 30 years, when Robert Vadra was nowhere in picture. In fact, DLF owner K P Singh gives Rajiv Gandhi all the credit for reviving DLF and enabling him to create Gurgaon as an international city. All this finds ample acknowledgement in his autobiography Whatever the Odds: The Incredible Story Behind DLF.
The Allahabad high court's Lucknow bench on Thursday granted three weeks to the Central government in New Delhi for filing objections to the petition that has sought the court's directive to order an investigation into the allegations of corruption leveled against Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law, Robert Vadra and real estate giant DLF.
A city lawyer has filed a case against Robert Vadra for his remarks 'mango people in banana republic' on his Facebook update, seeking punishment for 'defamatory remarks against the people and the country'. The court will hear the matter on October 18.
Robert Vadra is an impetuous man. In February 2005, when his father, the late Rajendra Vadra (whom Vadra had very publicly disowned), destitute and alone, suffered a heart attack in a decrepit 'barsati' in south Delhi's Amar Colony, Vadra let loose his temper at the journalist who attempted to highlight the incident. "What's your business (in this), stupid," he thundered.
Among the revelations made by anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal against Robert Vadra is that Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law bought large tracts of land in Bikaner between 2007 and 2010. When Mail Today investigated to check if Kejriwal's claims were correct, it found that he could indeed be speaking the truth.
In a press release issued by DLFBSE 2.37 % on Saturday, the company had said it bought a 3.5-acre plot at village Sikohpur, Gurgaon district at FSI (floor sale index) cost of Rs 2,800 per sq ft. It also claimed that the price of this property has significantly appreciated, benefitting both the company and its shareholders. But analysts, property brokers and landowners say land in that area in 2008-09 did not cost more than Rs 1,500 per sq ft. They say that the current price of commercial FSI in the area is Rs 2,500 per sq ft, while land touching the highway costs Rs 3,000 per sq ft.
According to Kerala Kaumudi, a prominent Malayalam newspaper that first broke the story, the buzz in and around Kochi is that most of the land being bought in the area, under different names that mainly belong to north India, are on behalf of Vadra. "Although there is no proof as yet, everyone in the real estate business in Kochi has been, for some time now, talking about Vadra. The mere name evokes fear among land registration officials around the city, who refuse to utter a word when Vadra's name is mentioned," says journalist Sunesh Kumar, who investigated the story. The paper has also revealed another Kerala connection for the Vadras. Kochi resident Sreenivasan Krishnan has replaced Priyanka Gandhi as the director of Blue Breeze Trading, a chartered-flight service provider which is under scrutiny for alleged corporate favours, as claimed by Arvind Kejriwal.
Each time Robert Vadra steps into the spotlight, the average mango folks can’t help but wonder, “Really? She married him?” Of all the men at all the Delhi A-list parties, Priyanka Gandhi picked this guy?
But there are still many more big questions:
- DLF says Robert Vadra's company Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd sold its land at Manesar for Rs 58 crore to DLF and rs 50 cr was paid as advance. This land was acquired a year ago at Rs 15.38 crore by Sky Light. How did a cost escalation of almost 400 per cent take place in the span of a year?
- And despite a payment of Rs 50 crore in advance for the land, why do Vadra's balance sheets in March 2011 show both cash and land still in his company's name? Also, what happened to this money for 2 years?
- In another deal, DLF says Vadra paid Rs 11.9 crore for an apartment in Aralia. But why does his balance sheet show Rs 89.41 lakh as the purchase price, which a year later is valued at over Rs 11 crore?
- If Vadra became a 50 per cent shareholder of DLF SEZ in October 2008, how did he exit the business a year later without any loss or gain - considering that the real estate sector was witnessing a downturn.
- What was Robert Vadra's influence in the market that made DLF invest so heavily in all his companies, also giving crores as advance?
- In a falling market, why will DLF buy back Vadra's stake in the SEZ at the same price after one year?
- Why did Kejriwal use a stayed HC judgement as evidence in the DLF SEZ land deal?
On Friday, anti-graft activist Arvind Kejriwal and his associates accused Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi of corruption. That snow-balled into a political controversy ahead of key state assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Kejriwal has alleged that Vadra, husband of Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka, has purchased at least 31 properties mostly in New Delhi worth more than Rs.300 crore for which money has come from “unsecured interest-free loans from DLF Ltd”.
But the alibi that DLF trots out on behalf of itself and Vadra to defend their land dealings rings untrue. It hardly seems “standard business practice” for DLF to pay up to nearly 90 percent of the property transaction value to Vadra’s company as an “advance” – and for that amount to remain listed on Vadra’s company’s balance sheet for two years and more as an “advance”. Indicatively, even as of 31 March 2010, Sky Light Hospitality lists a Rs 50 crore payment from DLF as an advance on sale of Manesar land, and an additional Rs 10 crore from DLF as “advance… (Land A/c)”. Despite the nature of this classication, in spirit, there is nothing to distinguish these payments from an interest-free loan to Vadra’s companies
Which is why Sonia Gandhi‘s son-in-law Robert Vadra speaks with authority when he speaks of India as a “banana republic”. More than any of us, he ought to know: he lives in that “banana republic” world, and makes it work to his advantage – and, as has been established, to enhance his business fortune. Robert Vadra knows the ‘banana republic’ from the inside. Reuters It is only in a ‘banana republic’ that a man who starts off with Rs 50 lakh capital (and an undistinguished record of running a middling family business) can, in just three short years, build a Rs 300 crore business empire – without any semblance of business activity, as declared in his companies’ filings
Rapidly, armed with loans amounting to Rs 8 crore, principally from DLF Ltd (Rs 5 crore), his own company Sky Light Hospitality (Rs 2 crore), another company owned by him Blue Breeze Trading (Rs 89.5 lakh) and another of his companies Artex (Rs 15 lakh), he began acquiring properties across north India principally in Haryana and Rajasthan. While DLF has clarified that the Rs 50 crore transaction was for purchase a plot of land 3.5 acres just off NH-8 in Sikohpur village, Gurgaon district, from Vadra, the other property acquisitions across firms has not been explained yet. Hilton Garden Inn Hotel Saket, New Delhi Sky Light Hospitality books reflect the Rs 50 crore advance. On Monday, Robert Vadra described Kejriwal & Co. as 'mango people in banana republic' on Facebook.
After reports that Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra posted a new Facebook status that read, 'Mango people in banana republic', India Against Corruption (IAC) asked him to apologise. IAC member Arvind Kejriwal's associate Kumar Vishwas demanded that Vadra apologise for insulting India by calling it a banana republic.
"A company (DLF) which itself has a loan to the tune of Rs 22,000 crore and paying an interest of 15 per cent thereon, was extending interest-free loans worth Rs 65 crore to Vadra," BJP national spokesman Prakash Javadekar told reporters here while demanding a probe into the matter.
Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who supports the anti-corruption movement of Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, said it might not be possible to invoke PCA against Vadra for now, but once more evidence came to light things might change.
There are no other employee costs in the books, either to his mother or to others. However, in the documents, both directors “place on record their deep sense of appreciation for the committed services of executives, staff and workers of the company.”
But the alibi that DLF trots out on behalf of itself and Vadra to defend their land dealings rings untrue. It hardly seems “standard business practice” for DLF to pay up to nearly 90 percent of the property transaction value to Vadra’s company as an “advance” – and for that amount to remain listed on Vadra’s company’s balance sheet for two years and more as an “advance”
The IAC activist also hit out at the Congress Party’s continued defence of Vadra saying, that the very fact that they were defending him so vigorously showed that he was guilty. He added, “I’m really sad that Salman Khurshid is saying ‘main Sonia ji ke liye jaan de dunga‘ instead of saying ‘desh ke liye jaan dunga‘
Congress party, DLF and Robert Vadra's defence
Union minister Sharad Pawar dared social activist Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday to approach court if he felt that his allegation against Sonia Gandhi‘s son-in-law Robert Vadra had any substance.
The allegations levelled against me by Kejriwal and Bhushan are utterly false, entirely baseless and defamatory”, Vadra said, two days after charges made by the civil society activists at a press conference here created a political storm.
The first floor of 268, Sukhdev Vihar, a nondescript white and grey bungalow, houses the headquarters of at least three companies/businesses owned by Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Vadra, who had been renting the premises for seven-odd years, has recently bought the property.
India's ruling Congress party Saturday rejected demands for an investigation into an alleged property scam involving the son-in-law of the country's most powerful politician, Sonia Gandhi.