Court issues notice to ED on Ratul Puri’s bail plea.

A Delhi court has sought response from the Enforcement Directorate on the bail plea of Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in a money laundering case related to the VVIP chopper scam.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar issued notice to the ED and directed it to file a reply by November 22, when the court will next hear the matter.

Puri moved the bail plea through advocate Vijay Agarwal on Saturday, saying he was not required for further investigation and no purpose will be served by keeping him in custody.

The Enforcement Directorate recently filed a supplementary Prosecution Complaint against Ratul Puri and Jaspreet Ahuja in the ?3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case.

In January 2014, India had scrapped a contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary, Agustawestland, for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force, over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks worth ?423 crore being paid to secure the deal.

Chopper case: Delhi court directs Saxena to record statement before magistrate on Mar 2

A Delhi court Thursday directed Rajeev Saxena, who had moved a plea to become an approver in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland money-laundering case, to record his statement before a magistrate court.

Special judge Arvind Kumar marked Saxena’s plea before the court of the CMM on March 2 for recording of his disclosure statement (disclose intentions for becoming an approver), after he told the court that he had no intention not to cooperate and that it was logical at this stage to complete his testimony in a fair way.

The judge asked him, “Are you aware that you may not be absolved of punishment by becoming an approver?”. To this Saxena replied in the affirmative.

“I have thought long and hard and I am confident that my exposure to the case is minimal… I have no intention not to cooperate. At this stage it is logical to complete my testimony in a fair way,” he told the court.

He further asserted that he decided to be an approver on his own free will and with a complete understanding of the case and he was neither given any assurances nor has he taken any.

The ED was on Wednesday asked by the court to file its response by today but Special Public Prosecutor D P Singh argued that the agency will file its reply after Saxena’s disclosure statement was recorded before a different court.

Saxena had moved an application to be an approver in the case, saying it was “out of free will” and “without any coercion” and prayed that he “will make a full disclosure subject to the grant of pardon”.

“The applicant humbly prays, without prejudice to his defence, that he may be granted pardon approver under Section 306 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 subject to the condition that he will make a full disclosure, to the extent, the facts are within his knowledge of which he will make a true and proper disclosure subject to the grant of pardon,” his application had said.

Saxena had said that he has cooperated with the investigation throughout and has made known entire facts regarding the case.

“The applicant cooperated with the investigation during the entire period of remand before the Directorate of Enforcement.

“The applicant has made a clean breast of the entire facts as known to the applicant with regard to the complaint pertaining to the AgustaWestland helicopters filed by the Directorate of Enforcement to the extent known to him,” the application had said.

Saxena was earlier granted bail by the court on medical grounds after perusing reports submitted by AIIMS.

The court had said that it was clear from the medical record submitted by AIIMS that Saxena was suffering from a number of serious ailments including blood cancer and needs constant medical checkups.

Saxena, who is in custody since January 31 after his deportation from Dubai, said in his bail plea that when all the other accused in the case, including Gautam Khaitan, Ritu Khaitan and S P Tyagi were out on bail, there could be “no justification” to deny him the same relief.

Saxena, a director of two Dubai-based firms – UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings – is one of the accused named in the charge sheet filed by ED in the AgustaWestland case.

Christian Michel, former AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica directors Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, former Air Force chief SP Tyagi and Saxena’s wife Shivani have also been named by the agency in the chargesheet.

The ED had alleged that in connivance with Khaitan, Saxena provided a global corporate structure for laundering illegal proceeds of the crime for payment to various political persons, bureaucrats and Air Force officials to influence the contract to supply 12 VVIP helicopters in favour of AgustaWestland.

Saxena was residing in Palm Jumeriah, Dubai and has been living in the UAE for last 26 years.

Maintaining that AgustaWestland had paid Euro 58 million as kickbacks through two Tunisia-based firms, the ED has alleged that “these companies further siphoned off the said money in the name of consultancy contracts to M/s Interstellar Technologies Limited, Mauritius and others which were further transferred to M/s UHY Saxena and M/s Matrix Holdings Ltd, Dubai and others”.

It was alleged by the probe agency that the two Dubai-based firms were the entities “through which the proceeds of crime have been routed and further layered and integrated in buying the immovable properties/ shares, among others” in this case.

On January 1, 2014, India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks of Rs 423 crore paid by it to secure the deal.

VVIP chopper case: Delhi court sends Christian Michel to judicial custody

A Delhi court Saturday sent alleged middleman Christian Michel, arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, to judicial custody.

Michel was produced before Special Judge Arvind Kumar and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought his judicial custody in connection with its probe into a money-laundering case.

In the ED case, the court sent Michel to judicial custody till February 26 and in the CBI case, it sent him to judicial custody till February 27.

Michel, who was extradited from Dubai recently, was arrested by the ED on December 22 and sent to a seven-day custody of the agency by a court here.

He was earlier lodged in the Tihar Jail here in a related CBI case.

The ED, through special public prosecutors D P Singh and N K Matta, told the court that probe had been “fruitful” till now.

“We have investigated how cash was transferred through ‘hawala’ and multiple bank accounts. We have found information about other defence deals. We need to investigate the money flowing there as well. We have documents to show that they misled the Italian court,” it said.

The court had earlier imposed restrictions on Michel meeting his lawyers in ED custody after the agency said he was misusing legal access by passing chits to the advocates, asking them how to tackle questions on “Mrs Gandhi”.

In its application seeking extension of Michel’s remand, the agency also claimed that during questioning, he had spoken about the “son of an Italian lady” and how he was going to become the next prime minister of the country.

“We also need to decipher who the ‘big man’ referred to as ‘R’ is in the communication between Christian Michel and other people,” the agency told the court.

The ED sought that Michel be barred from meeting his lawyers in custody, alleging that he was being tutored from outside through his lawyers.

The agency told the court that Michel had made a reference to “Mrs Gandhi” during his interrogation on December 27.

During his medical examination, the accused had handed over a folded paper to his lawyer, Aljo K Joseph, and it was noticed by the ED officials.

After the perusal of the paper, it was revealed that it pertained to a set of follow-up questions on “Mrs Gandhi”, the ED said.

The agency told the court that it was clear that there was a conspiracy to shield or tamper with evidence that could be brought forth from the questioning of the accused.

It said it had discovered fresh evidence relating to new entities used for laundering the proceeds of crime and that Michel’s custodial interrogation was needed for confronting his Indian connections identified till date.

His custody was required for “unearthing the deep-rooted conspiracy and identification of all his accomplices, including the IAF officials, MoD (Ministry of Defence) officials, bureaucrats and politicians who gained undue advantage for getting the contract in favour of AgustaWestland,” the ED said in its application, adding that Michel remained evasive to certain questions during investigation.

Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

The ED, in its remand application on Saturday, said the probe had revealed that Michel was the key middleman for AgustaWestland, pursuing the deal at different levels, and was instrumental in the circulation of sensitive information and eventual payment of kickbacks.

The key issues being investigated by the ED include the modus operandi adopted by the accused to eliminate TATA and HAL from competition in an Italian deal and the steps undertaken to mask the present deal as a British deal, instead of an Italian deal, to gain advantage in Light Observation Helicopters.

The agency is also probing the modus operandi adopted in influencing the German deal and how the accused misused information, leading to actions under the Official Secrets Act, and to determine if there were any more kickbacks, leading to the proceeds of crime linked with these activities.

The agency said it needed to determine the exact quantum of money laundered through the Media Exim Private Limited, the roles of the co-accused and unearth the proceeds of crime parked through this channel.

The ED, in its chargesheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he had received 30 million euros — about Rs 225 crore — from AgustaWestland.

The CBI, in its chargesheet, has alleged an estimated loss of 398.21 million euros (about Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth 556.262 million euros.

Chopper deal: Court to consider charge-sheet Dec 15

A here Friday fixed Dec 15 for considering the charge-sheet filed against businessman Gautam Khaitan and others, including two Italians, in a money-laundering case related to the AgustaWestland VIP chopper deal.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge V.K. Gupta listed for Dec 15 the matter for considering the charge-sheet and said he needs more time to read the relevant file.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed the charge-sheet naming Khaitan, his wife Ritu, Chandigarh-based firm Aeromatrix and two Italian middlemen, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke, as accused in the case.

The agency has booked them for the offences under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Khaitan is presently lodged in Tihar Jail in judicial custody. On the board of Aeromatrix, he was arrested by the ED a day after the agency conducted a search of his premises Sep 22.

The 12 helicopter deal with British firm AgustaWestland came under scrutiny after Italian authorities alleged that the company paid a bribe to clinch the deal with India, inked in February 2010.

India Jan 1 terminated the Rs.3,600 crore (about $770 million) deal following the allegations.

India had paid around 45 percent of the total contract value for the choppers meant to ferry the president, the prime minister and other VIPs.

The Enforcement Directorate registered a case in this deal in July 2013 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and booked former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, and foreign nationals Gerosa, Christian Michel and Haschke in its criminal complaint.

Companies like AgustaWestland, its parent company Italy-based Finmeccanica, Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix as well as two companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia, and a few other firms and unidentified people were also named.

The Central Bureau of Investigation lodged a separate case in March 2013 against Tyagi and others in connection with the kickback allegations.

SIT on blackmoney to help probe money trail in AgustaWestland chopper deal

The agency is in the pursuit to track Rs 400 crore of alleged bribe money which was purportedly paid as kickbacks for finalising the deal with the said company. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money will assist in the probe into money trail of alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3600-crore AgustaWestland choppers deal with Enforcement Directorate seeking its help to send abroad about half-a-dozen judicial requests for cooperation. Official sources said the ED wanted to send about six Letters Rogatory (LRs) to various foreign shores to probe the money trail in this case while the CBI has already got issued five such legal requests through a Delhi court.

“In order to avoid duplicity of task and asking of same questions by the two agencies, the ED has sought SIT’s help in obtaining the LRs already sent by CBI to various countries in this case. The SIT, after reviewing the case, has agreed to write to CBI in this regard,” sources said. “Whatever has not been asked by CBI and is essential from the point of view of money trail would then be framed as questions of the LRs of the ED which will then approach a competent court for formal issuance,” they said. A special CBI court, in August this year, had issued LRs to the competent authorities of United Kingdom (UK), Switzerland, Singapore, United Arab Emirates(UAE) and British Virgin Island.

CBI sources, however, said they have not received any communication so far in this regard. In order to widen its probe into the money laundering probe, the ED is mulling sending judicial requests to about six countries seeking information on bank accounts and transactions to detect the trail of alleged kickbacks money. The agency has early this year filed a criminal case in the VVIP helicopter purchase deal under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The agency till now has detected that over 170 ‘fake firms’ were floated to route the alleged illegal funds between Indian and foreign firms. The agency, sources said, wants to send LRs to Italy, Mauritius, the UK, Tunisia, Dubai and some other jurisdictions in Europe to piece together the flow of funds and money in this deal. The ED is probing the case under the criminal provisions of PMLA and it has so far arrested businessman and lawyer Gautam Khaitan in this case. The agency is in the pursuit to track Rs 400 crore of alleged bribe money which was purportedly paid as kickbacks for finalising the deal with the said company – See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/sit-on-blackmoney-to-help-probe-money-trail-in-agustawestland-chopper-deal/#sthash.b0iyg0Hb.dpuf