UK Home Secretary clears extradition of fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari

Bhandari’s extradition has been ordered in a money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The agency was fighting the case in UK court on behalf of the Indian government

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By: Anand Singh
Updated: 17 January, 2023 1:58 pm IST
British home secretary Suella Braverman has approved Sanjay Bhandari's extradition to India.

In more troubles for fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, British home secretary Suella Braverman has approved his extradition to India.

The development comes two months after a Westminster court in London ordered Bhandari’s extradition to India.

Bhandari now has 14 days to appeal against the extradition in the high court against the order.

His extradition order was cleared on January 12 and he can appeal against his extradition until January 26.

Bhandari’s extradition has been ordered in a money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The agency was fighting the case in UK court on behalf of the Indian government.

The Westminster court had earlier cleared the extradition of the arms dealer to India in November.

Besides ED, the fugitive arms dealer is facing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Income Tax probe against him in India.

The troubles for Bhandari began after the ED started a probe over a complaint under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income & Assets) and Imposition of Act, 2015 (Black Money Act) was filed against him before the court by Income Tax authorities.

The ED filed a chargesheet on June 1, 2020, against Bhandari and other co-conspirators, including various companies floated by him in the overseas jurisdiction.

The ED has named Bhandari and several others in its charge sheet.

The ED had also attached several properties of Bhandari and others in lieu of undisclosed assets held abroad by him under sections of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) held in his name, in the name of his wife, and as well as his various companies in 2017.

The agency’s action comes in the wake of its ongoing investigation into the case it registered under criminal charges of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in February 2017 and also under the FEMA.

According to ED officials, Bhandari has acquired assets worth over Rs 150 crore outside India, which he had not declared for taxation purposes before the Income Tax authorities.

On June 1, 2017, the financial probe agency attached properties worth Rs 21 crore belonging to Bhandari in Delhi over his involvement in a money laundering case, which included — commercial properties in Panchsheel Shopping Complex, Panchsheel Park, a residential house in Vasant Vihar in south Delhi and another house in Gurugram, that was registered in his name, his wife’s name as well as the various companies he ran.

The Income Tax department had registered a case against Bhandari under the Black Money Act, notified in 2016 to curb the stashing of unaccounted wealth and properties abroad by Indians.

The case first came to light after the I-T Department conducted searches against Bhandari in April 2016 and recovered certain “sensitive” official defense documents from his premises.

The Delhi Police had also booked him for alleged violation of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) last year.

The CBI had also booked Bhandari in June 2019 under corruption charges in a 2009 deal worth Rs 2,985 crore to produce 75 PC-7 trainer aircraft from Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland.

A senior CBI said that a case was registered against Bhandari, and Bimal Darren both directors of Offset India Solutions Pvt Ltd., and officials of Swiss-based plane-maker Pilatus Aircraft Ltd over alleged irregularities in the procurement of 75 basic trainer aircraft in 2009 on Wednesday.

He said the CBI has alleged kickbacks up to Rs 339 crore were paid in the deal.

The CBI earlier registered a preliminary inquiry (PE) on November 11, 2016, to verify the allegations of bribery.

The CBI official said that it is probing the kind of services Bhandari’s company, Offset India Solution Pvt Ltd, provided to the Swiss aircraft firm.

Bhandari is already being investigated for allegedly buying a Benami house for former Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra in London.

 

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