Bank fraud: Ratul Puri moves bail plea

A Delhi court on Friday sought response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a bail application filed by businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in a money laundering case related to a bank loan fraud.

Special judge Arvind Kumar issued notice to the ED and directed it to file a reply by November 30.

The ED had last month filed a charge sheet against Puri and company Moser Baer before Special Judge Sanjay Garg and the court is scheduled to take up the matter later in the day.

The ED had arrested Puri on August 20. He is currently in judicial custody in the case.

Puri is also in judicial custody in another money laundering case related to AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

In the chopper scam, the Delhi High Court had earlier dismissed Puri’s anticipatory bail plea, saying his custodial interrogation was “required for an effective investigation”.

Puri was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the bank fraud case after he appeared before the central probe agency here in the chopper scam.

The latest PMLA case, filed by the ED, emerged from a CBI FIR of August 17, where Ratul Puri, his father Deepak Puri, mother Nita (Nath’s sister) and others were booked in connection with a Rs 354 crore bank fraud case filed by the Central Bank of India.

The bank had claimed that the company and its directors forged and fabricated documents to induce the Central Bank of India to release funds.

The Puri family, other individuals like Sanjay Jain and Vineet Sharma were booked by the CBI for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption.

Ratul Puri was booked in this case in his capacity as executive director of Moser Baer India Limited (MBIL), a firm promoted by his father Deepak Puri.

The company manufactured optical storage media like compact discs, DVDs, solid state storage devices.

Ratul Puri is facing criminal investigation by three main central probe agencies, ED, CBI and the Income Tax department.

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.

ED seeks custodial interrogation of Robert Vadra in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate Thursday sought custodial interrogation of Robert Vadra in a money laundering case.

The agency sought the custodial interrogation of Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, before Special Judge Arvind Kumar.

Vadra, facing allegations of money laundering in purchase of a London-based property at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million pounds, was granted interim protection from arrest by a Delhi court till March 27.

Senior advocate K T S Tulsi, appearing for Vadra, had denied all allegations against him and said that he has not misused the liberty granted to him by the court.

Delhi court extends interim protection from arrest to Robert Vadra’s aide till Feb 6

A Delhi court on Saturday extended till February 6 the interim protection from arrest granted to Manoj Arora, a close aide of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, in a money laundering case.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told Special Judge Arvind Kumar that Arora was cooperating in the probe.

“He joined the probe yesterday. So far he is cooperating,” Special Public Prosecutor D P Singh, appearing for the ED, said.

ED’s Special Public Prosecutor Nitesh Rana sought two more weeks for arguments on the application which was allowed by the court.

Rana said it remained to be seen if Arora would cooperate further.

The case relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property — located at 12, Bryanston Square — worth 1.9 million pounds, which is allegedly owned by Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

In the last hearing, Arora had alleged before the court that the case was foisted on him by the NDA government out of “political vendetta”.

However, the ED refuted the allegations, asking that “should no authority investigate any political bigwig because that will be called a political vendetta?”

The agency had told the court that it lodged the money laundering case against Arora after his role came up during the probe of another case by the Income Tax Department under the newly-enacted Black Money Act and tax law against absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

It said the London-based property was bought by Bhandari for GBP 1.9 million and sold in 2010 for the same amount despite incurring additional expenses of approximately GBP 65,900 on its renovation.

“This gives credence to the fact that Bhandari was not the actual owner of the property but it was beneficially owned by Vadra who was incurring expenditure on the renovation of this property,” the ED had told court.

Arora, an employee of Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality LLP, was a key person in the case and he was aware of the latter’s overseas undeclared assets and was instrumental in arranging funds, it had said.

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.

IRCTC scam case: Lalu Prasad, wife, son and others summoned as accused

New Delhi: A Delhi court today summoned RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav and others as accused in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) scam.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar directed them to appear before the court on August 31 in a case related to alleged irregularities in granting operational contract of two IRCTC hotels to a private firm.
The CBI, which had on April 16 filed the charge sheet in the case, had said that there were enough evidence against the accused.
The CBI had earlier informed the court that sanction has been procured from the authorities concerned to prosecute Additional Member of Railway Board B K Agarwal, who was then the group general manager of the IRCTC.

Besides Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members, former union minister Prem Chand Gupta and his wife Sarla Gupta, Agarwal, then managing director of IRCTC P K Goyal and then IRCTC director Rakesh Saxena were also named in the charge sheet.
The other names in the charge sheet include then group general managers of IRCTC V K Asthana and R K Goyal, and Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar, both directors of Sujata Hotels and owners of Chanakya Hotel.
Delight marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and Sujata Hotels Private Limited have also been named as accused companies in the charge sheet.
The CBI had registered a case in July last year and carried out searches at 12 locations in Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Gurugram in connection with the case. The charges in the case include criminal conspiracy (120-B), cheating (420) under IPC and corruption, the central probe agency had said.
According to the charge sheet, between 2004 and 2014, a conspiracy was hatched in pursuance of which BNR hotels of Indian Railways, located at Puri and Ranchi, were first transferred to the IRCTC and later, for its operations, maintenance and upkeep, it was given on lease to Sujata Hotel Private Limited, which is based in Patna.

It is alleged that the tender process was rigged and manipulated, and the conditions were tweaked to help the private party (Sujata Hotels).

Delhi court grants bail to accused in EC bribery case involving AIADMK

 A Delhi court today granted bail to a senior advocate, who is an accused in the Election Commission bribery case involving AIADMK (Amma) faction leader T T V Dhinakaran.

Special judge Arvind Kumar granted bail to Chennai-based B Kumar and asked him to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of the like amount.

Dhinakaran was also present in the court following summons issued against him last month.

The Income Tax department has also moved an application to examine Sukesh Chandrashekhar, an alleged middleman, who is presently in judicial custody.

The Delhi police had on December 14 last year filed a supplementary charge sheet against Dhinakaran, Chandrashekhar, Mallikarjuna, a long-time friend of Dhinakaran, and six others in the case.

Dhinakaran, who was not mentioned as an accused in the charge sheet filed by the police in July last year, has now been accused of offences under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of IPC, besides taking gratification by corrupt or illegal means to influence public servant under Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act).

The others have been accused of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and destruction of evidence under the IPC and provisions of the PC Act.

In its 701-page charge sheet filed on July 14, the police had claimed that money recovered from Chandrashekar was sent by Dhinakaran through unaccounted channels with the help of other accused persons.

Chandrashekhar, who was arrested on April 16 this year, was named in the charge sheet for alleged offences of forgery of valuable security, forgery for the purpose of cheating, making a false document and criminal conspiracy under the IPC and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

Dhinakaran, accused of trying to bribe EC officials to get the “two leaves” poll symbol for the AIADMK faction led by V K Sasikala, was arrested on April 25 and granted bail on June 1.

The police had accused Chandrashekhar, Dhinakaran and others of hatching a criminal conspiracy to bribe the Election Commission officials.

Pragati Maidan graft case : Court grants bail to 2 govt officers

A Delhi court today granted bail to two govt officials in a case of alleged corruption in the Rs 2,150 crore project to revamp the ITPO Complex at Pragati Maidan here.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar granted relief to the public servants, Pradeep Mishra and Akashdeep Chouhan, on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh each and a surety of the same amount.

NBCC chairman-cum-managing director Anoop Mittal has also been made an accused in the case.

The court has already granted bail to Sanjay Kulkarni, the managing director of Capacite Structures and suspected middleman, Rishabh Agrawal, in the case.

It had on January 5 reserved its order on the bail applications of Kulkarni and Agrawal after hearing arguments from defence advocates and the CBI.

The agency had booked Mishra and Chouhan in the case on December 22, 2017 for allegedly delivering the bribe.

It alleged in the FIR that the contract to redevelop the prime land at the Pragati Maidan exhibition complex was awarded to Shapoorji Pallonji and Co. Pvt. Ltd. and Shapoorji Pallonji Qatar WLL for Rs 2,149.93 crore by NBCC.

Mumbai-based Capacite Structures was trying to get that work from Shapoorji Pallonji on sub-contract.

Kulkarni had approached Agrawal, the suspected middleman having good contacts with public servants, for getting the sub-contract in favour of the company, the CBI had alleged.