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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

VVIP chopper deal under ED scanner for money laundering

PTI  New Delhi, February 13, 2013
First Published: 20:26 IST(13/2/2013) | Last Updated: 20:29 IST(13/2/2013)

The troubled VVIP chopper purchase from an Italian firm has also come under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate which is expected to register a criminal case of money laundering to probe allegations of kickbacks in the Rs. 3600 deal.

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The ED started going through documents it had received from a US Attorney Edmond Allen who was earlier associated with arms dealer Abhishek Verma which had suggested that kickbacks have been paid in the chopper deal by the firm AgustaWestland, the agency sources said.


The references about the firm, which is in the news because of the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi-- the CEO of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica-- were in respect of alleged purchases of utility and some variants of military choppers for Indian defence and security requirements.

Sources said the ED will take a call whether to register a case under the stringent clauses of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in this deal once the CBI files an FIR and also will take in account its ongoing investigation under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA)

The agency has been conducting a probe since last year for alleged violation of forex laws in the country in the conduct of the VVIP chopper deal and the probe "has been expanded" to all other dealings of the said company.

The agency has also questioned Abhishek Verma about his dealings with this firm but sources said there were a few leads on this front. Verma has denied any wrongdoing.

The agency is also believed to have gathered some inputs regarding the transactions done to procure 12 VVIP service helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland in 2010.

The ED, according to sources, will approach foreign authorities once it registers the PMLA case as it would give them a firm basis to identify any "proceeds of crime", which are called as kickbacks, in the commissioning of this order.

After Tuesday's arrest of Orsi in Italy, the government was to order a CBI probe in this regard.

The ED, sources said, has also approached their foreign counterparts in Italy for official records but the agency is still to get the desired help.


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