NEW DELHI: The investigative agencies probing into tax evasion and money laundering case against fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari has found the code that could sing intimate details of his alleged shady dealings in India and abroad.
According to top sources, the young femme fatale codenamed ‘R’ has turned approver after the multi-agency probe revealed her links with Bhandari who slipped out to London in December last year.
It is learnt that investigators had examined 40 text messages exchanged between Bhandari and ‘R’ before approaching her. The secret keeper confronted with evidence subsequently agreed to talk. The Express reviewed the details related to the latest development that shows ‘R’ was in regular touch with the arms dealer since 2013-14. The days before the income tax raid in April 2016, the frequency of chatters between the duo had increased and the agencies have examined 185 pieces of communication that would play a crucial role in the probe.
“She is a witness now and her statement could be used to bolster the case. We have tracked down another close confidant after examining 133 text messages exchanged. She too has been approached with the evidence for recording the statement in the case,” the sources revealed.
The identity of ‘She’ in the documents has not been revealed although an official confirmed the existence of frequent chatters between the two over a period of time. Interestingly, another close aide mentioned in the documents has not been traced. Codenamed as ‘N’, the girl under the scanner had exchanged around 1700 text messages with Bhandari. Sources said she immediately disappeared from the face of the earth last year.
“It appears from the evidence collected so far that Bhandari was chatting frequently with ‘N'. She could become an important witness in this case and may deliver bombshell, spilling the beans on Bhandari’s network and his firms that are under the investigation,” sources further added. The income tax investigation wing during the raids on April 27, 2016 at his residence had unearthed emails, linking Bhandari with businessmen and some known political figures.
Bhandari was charged under sections 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) by Delhi Police in October after the Income Tax sleuths recovered confidential defence documents during the search operation. Documents recovered from Bhandari’s premises reveals that he made an investment in two properties in Dubai and London using companies registered in tax haven countries.
The Enforcement Directorate recently attached Bhandari's assets worth Rs.21 crore under the relevant section of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). However, getting him back to India from his hideout in London would be Indian government’s litmus test.