Corporate Oct 26, 2012
You got to hand it to the man. Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, has the Midas touch when it comes to picking real estate.
We all know how he managed to more than triple his money on a Rs 15.3 crore piece of land in Manesar, Gurgaon, with a little bit of help from friends like DLF, who bought from him for Rs 58 crore(read here).
In Rajasthan, he managed to do even better. This time he managed to multiply his landed wealth 40 times.
According to a report by CNN-IBN, which accessed the documents in Rajasthan's Bikaner district, least 20 plots measuring over 770 hectares were picked up by Vadra's firms just months after the Ashok Gehlot government came to power.
The purchases were made between June 2009 and August 2011, and after Vadra bought the land, it seems land prices shot up 40 times.
The report says that a clutch of investors, including Vadra, apparently privy to information on upcoming industrial projects in the vicinity, reaped huge profits with land values appreciating by up to 40 times since 2009.
Some of the projects included:
• Solar projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission
• A Rs 45,000 crore silicon chip project with Vavasi
• A power grid substation in Kolayat.
Documents with CNN-IBN reveal that between 2009 and 2011, Vadra's companies Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd, Sky Light Realty Pvt Ltd, Real Earth Estates Pvt Ltd, North India IT Park Pvt Ltd and Blue Breeze Trading Pvt Ltd purchased 770 hectares at an average price of Rs 40,000 to 50,000 per bigha.
The report quotes area dealers as saying that Vadra's companies have sold off at least 300 bighas of land earlier this year to a Spanish Solar Power Company at appreciated values.
Did Vadra know in advance that the projects were coming up?
A report in DNA quotes a local MLA who definitely thinks so. The newspaper quotes Devi Singh Bhati, the MLA in whose area the land deals took place, as saying: "Vadra clearly misused his position as the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi. The land was purchased either in the knowledge that industrial projects would be announced, or circumstances were created to bring projects to the area."
Rajat Gupta is going to jail in the US for passing on inside information to Raj Rajaratnam. In Robert Vadra's case, the big question is this: who is the insider who told him that land prices in the area would go through the roof? Or is Vadra really a real estate genius, and whatever he touches turns to gold?
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