New Delhi, Jun 7 (FP) : In a move that is likely to see the opposition up in arms, the CBI has withdrawn a case of disproportionate assets filed against Congress president Sonia Gandhi‘s aide Vincent George saying that there was insufficient evidence against him.
The CBI had reportedly initiated the probe against George and his family after there was a spike in his income after 1990. Also apart from Rs 1.5 crore in his bank account, he had properties like shops in south Delhi and land holdings in Chennai, Kerala and Delhi.
The investigating agency said that George had claimed the assets were purchased using cash gifts from family members abroad, that are suspected to be hawala transactions, reported the Indian Express.
“It was suspected that the remittances were a part of hawala transactions, where the money was sent abroad through illegal channels and brought back through banking channels as ‘cash gifts’,” an unnamed CBI official was quoted as saying in the report.
The CBI was forced to call off the investigations after US authorities did not reply to the letters rogatory that they had sent in 2002, as a result of which the investigations had come to a standstill and left them without enough evidence to file a charge sheet in the case.
George, who started work as a typist in the Congress office, had reportedly seen his assets swell rapidly
According to a Hindu report, among the ‘gifts’ George received were deposits of Rs. 1.25 crores in November 1991, Rs. 41 lakhs in December 1991, Rs. 70 lakhs in December 1992, Rs. 20 lakhs in March 1995, Rs. 71 lakhs in January 1996, and Rs. 30 lakhs in March 1997 and Rs. 25 lakhs in November 1999.
While George claimed that the transactions were a result of business transactions by two firms run by his wife, Lily, the CBI claimed they found little evidence to indicate that the businesses could have generated enough funds.
A close confidante of the Gandhi family, George had worked his way up in the party and went from working in Indira Gandhi’s office, to becoming the secretary for Sanjay Gandhi and later the private secretary of Rajiv Gandhi, a detailed profile on Rediff stated.
After the mid-level bureaucratic post with Rajiv Gandhi, George made an abortive attempt to become a Rajya Sabha MP and after the former Prime Minister’s assassination, he continued to work with Sonia Gandhi.
While he may no longer enjoy the position of being Sonia Gandhi‘s personal secretary, George is still said to be working for the Congress party and whether this exoneration will bring him back to the spotlight remains to be seen.