Businessman Robert Vadra on Wednesday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the interrogation into a money laundering case related to the alleged possession of foreign assets, PTI reported. This is the first time Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, has appeared before any investigating agency in connection with the charges against him.

His wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra dropped him off at the agency’s office in Delhi’s Jamnagar House. Several reports have claimed this is a big signal to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been criticising Priyanka Gandhi, the newly appointed head of the Congress’ Uttar Pradesh East region, using her husband’s alleged dubious financial deals.

Last week, the Patiala House Court in Delhi had granted interim protection from arrest to the businessman till February 16 in the money laundering case and told him to join the investigation on Wednesday.

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that profits from “criminal acts” were used to fund the purchase of property at 12 Bryanston Square in London worth £1.9 million for Vadra. The money was reportedly channeled through the United Arab Emirates. The investigation was being conducted under the provisions of the Black Money Act. In December 2018, the agency had raided three properties owned by Vadra and his aides.

Vadra had alleged that he was subjected to “unwarranted, unjustified and malicious criminal prosecution” which was politically motivated and that he was being “hounded and harassed” to subserve political ends.

Aide’s interim protection from arrest extended

Earlier in the day, a Delhi court extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Vadra’s aide Manoj Arora in the money laundering case till February 16, PTI reported. On January 11, the court had given Arora protection from arrest until February 6.

The Enforcement Directorate on January 5 had moved the court to seek an open-ended non-bailable warrant against Arora, who had failed to appear for questioning despite repeated summons.

Arora has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance of implicating him in the case because of “political vendetta”. The Enforcement Directorate, however, has refuted the allegations.

BJP criticises Congress for link to Vadra

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party continued to criticise the Congress for its links to Vadra. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that Vadra had illegally gained from a petroleum and a defence deal under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance administration.

Patra cited an email trail that he claimed was evidence that Vadra’s company had received “kickbacks” from a series of companies floated to “turn black money into white”.

“The 2019 Lok Sabha election is a fight between the gang of corrupt versus transparency of Narendra Modi government,” Patra said.