Robert Vadra & Sanjay Bhandari’s names were dragged into the Rafale deal controversy by the BJP last week.

London: Absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, who the BJP dragged into the Rafale controversy last week, is living in a plush flat in London’s exclusive Mayfair locality.

Bhandari, considered close to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra, had fled the country through Nepal in 2016 following raids at his residence for allegedly possessing classified information on India’s defence purchases.

He was later charged under the Official Secrets Act.

Security agencies believe that the elusive arms dealer has gone into “hiding” but ThePrint traced him to an upscale property close to the famous Berkeley Square.


Also read: Robert Vadra’s arms dealer ‘friend’ is another ‘offender’ who fled India on BJP watch


Governor Hill Court
The plush flat owned by a Panamanian company, where Bhandari supposedly resides

The property is registered in the name of a Panamanian company and Bhandari too allegedly owns a company registered in Panama, a tax haven. The links between the two companies could, however, not be confirmed immediately.

When ThePrint visited the property last week, an Indian-origin woman there confirmed that Bhandari was associated with the flat.

“He is not available at the moment. I cannot tell you more as I just work here,” she said.

A porter working in the building too confirmed that Bhandari lived there. “He is there but is currently travelling.”

Flat owned by Panamanian firm

The UK Land registry records show that the property — Flat number 6, Grosvenor Hill Court — is owned by a Panamanian company, Shamlan Gross-1 Inc.  It is, however, not clear who the beneficial owner of the company is.

The property, a three-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, has an estimated value of around £2.3 million (Rs 21.7 crore), according to UK property website Zoopla.

The registry records show that the property was bought from General Hashim Said Hashim, a former head of the Saudi Arabian Air Force, in 2006 for £900,000 (Rs 8.6 crore).

Registry
Registry

“If Bhandari is staying in the flat and if it is officially registered in the name of a Panamanian company, then there is a possibility that it is a shell company, which was floated to buy the flat,” an Indian official source said.


Also read: Behind complaint against Robert Vadra is a land dealer ‘close to the BJP’


“He could have bought the house through one of his connections in the Saudi Arabian Air Force in his capacity as a defence consultant,” the source added.

Although Bhandari’s company, Offset India Solutions, was formed in 2008, investigators believe he had been networking in the arms sector for several years before he set up the firm.

The former head of the Saudi Arabian Air Force in question had also been involved in a bribery scandal.

Records show Hong Kong brothers are ‘lenders’

The UK land registry records also list a Hong Kong-based company, Saturn International Limited, as a “lender” to the property.

The company is owned by Mitesh and Manoj Jain, Hong Kong-based brothers who were allegedly involved in a duty scam in India in 2014.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had back then accused the duo of undervaluing around 3,673 goods imported from China, to evade customs duty.

The elusive arms dealer

Bhandari’s company, Offset India Solutions, was allegedly involved in executing offset contracts for several foreign military contractors.

The Delhi Police had registered an FIR against Bhandari in October 2016 after classified documents were recovered from his home and office during raids. A month later, the CBI registered a preliminary enquiry against Bhandari and his partner Bimal Sareen for their alleged role in the Pilatus PC-7 basic trainer aircraft deal.


Also read: Defence ministry suspends all dealings with fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari’s firm


Last Monday, the BJP alleged that Bhandari had a role in the Rafale controversy. Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat alleged that the Congress president’s attack on the Rafale deal was meant to get it cancelled since his “brother-in-law and friend… have been denied brokerage”.

He alleged that Bhandari used Vadra to compromise the nation’s defence to earn profits.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra too alleged that under the Congress-led UPA administration, Bhandari “extended favours” to Vadra in a bid to get the offset contract with Dassault Aviation.

The defence ministry in January passed an order suspending business dealings with Offset India Solutions.

ThePrint’s YouTube channel is now active and buzzing. Please subscribe here.

  • 73
    Shares
2 Comments Share Your Views

2 COMMENTS

  1. All Indians must follow their own proverbs. Thief’s looted but the Dog’s started barking after six months. Indian government is sleeping all these months and years?
    If they don’t know how to do the job go and cook the food at home at least his wife is happy Public servant come home to cook the food and to wash the dishes.

  2. Why is there even an entity named an “arms dealer”? Liaising with high government offices for high value contracts should be done DIRECTLY by very senior managers of prospective suppliers. I remember, one of the top most Indian infrastructure company used to have an officer of the rank of VICE PRESIDENT in that company permanently stationed in Delhi, just for that purpose — to liaise with the government at the highest level.

    Now we have these so called “arms dealers”, young, and apparently of no operational experience about arms, even looking dubious to me by their very looks, moving around in secret corridors of government, negotiating deals worth thousands of crores!!! Who are these shady characters, what is there need, and why are they EVEN ALLOWED to contact anyone in the defense ministry?

    The blame SQUARELY lies with ALL GOVERNMENTS of present and past. If they are going to pay out thousands of crores, why can’t they make it mandatory for all suppliers who want to participate in the purchase to spend a few thousand rupees on air tickets and hotel accommodation and send out THEIR OWN SENIOR MANAGER for every meeting.

    For example now this Mr Sanjay Bhandari…who is he, what is his qualification, what is his work experience, why is he even entering the top secret government premises… is he running a canteen there? If not, then can he at least demonstrate how a cannon is loaded on a gun? Or even how a 303 rifle is cleaned? …. I mean, with due respect to him as a stranger, WHY is he even allowed inside? These are very relevant questions.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here