CBI closes disproportionate assets case against Sonia Gandhi's close aide

FpVincent George

Twelve years after it registered a disproportionate assets case against Congress president Sonia Gandhi's former personal secretary Vincent George, the CBI recently withdrew the case, citing "insufficient evidence" in its closure report. George remains Sonia's close aide.

The CBI had registered the case against George in 2001, charging him with amassing assets beyond his known sources of income. According to the CBI, the assets of George and his family showed a quantum increase after 1990. His properties included houses and shops in South Delhi, a house in Bangalore, a plot in Chennai, land in Kerala and farmland on the outskirts of Delhi. He was found to have over Rs 1.5 crore in his bank accounts.

The CBI said the purchase of assets was facilitated by huge "cash gifts" from abroad, which George claimed were from his family members. "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'," said a CBI official who was involved in the investigation.

In 2002, letters rogatory were sent to the US authorities. A top CBI official said there was no response from the US, and they did "not have enough evidence to file a chargesheet".

George reportedly claimed that most of the cash deposits were "gifts", and the rest were "business transactions" conducted by his wife's two firms, Lilliens Exports and Diana Agencies. The agency concluded that the "business transactions" did not appear to be "genuine".

George came under suspicion following disclosures made by former Enforcement Directorate deputy director Ashok Aggarwal.

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