Former union minister of state for coal Santosh Bagrodia’s younger brother Satish Bagrodia is a director in Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech Limited, which Italian investigators allege was a key vehicle to route the AgustaWestland deal bribe money to India in the garb of fake software and engineering contracts.
According to documents accessed by HT, Partap Krishan Agarwal is managing director of IDS Infotech, and Satish Bagrodia, his two sons Ashish and Manish, and Yog Prakash Agarwal and Narinder Agarwal are other directors. Satish and Manish were appointed directors in 1989, while Ashish Bagrodia became a director in the company in 2005.
"I have nothing to do with business ventures of my brother," said Santosh Bagrodia when contacted by HT. "At the time of joining politics in 1986, on my suggestion, we four brothers separated our respective businesses."
This is not the first time that business ventures of Santosh Bagrodia’s brothers have landed him in controversy. In the coal block allocation scam, allegations were leveled against Santosh Bagrodia over a Rs. 600-crore mining contract awarded by a unit of state-owned Coal India Limited during his tenure in the coal ministry to Cuprum Bagrodia, a company of another of his brothers, Vinod. Santosh was coal minister between April 2008 and May 2009.
Satish Bagrodia told HT that IDS Infotech was providing business and software solutions to AgustaWestland till 2009, when it "sold" this business to Aeromatrix, another Chandigarh based firm.
And along with the business went Praveen Bakshi, an employee of IDS Infotech till 2009 as their executive vice president, and now the CEO of Aeromatrix, in which two Italians Guido Ralph Hasckhe and Carlo Gerosa were directors. Hasckhe and Gerosa have been named as middlemen in the AgustaWestland deal by the Italian prosecutors.
Contrary to Satish Bagrodia’s claims, Italian prosecutors believe that IDS Infotech never supplied any services to AgustaWestland, and that the contract between the two firms -- signed on March 1, 2007 -- was merely a mechanism to funnel kickbacks to India. They say bribes worth Rs. 156 crore were paid through IDS Infotech and IDS Tunisia, a company in which the Chandigarh-firm owns substantial shares. Details of invoices tracking the payment made to IDS Infotech also point to money paid till February 27, 2010 – just 19 days after AgustaWestland finally won the Rs. 3760 crore deal to supply 12 VVIP choppers to India.
“I and Partap are equal partners in IDS Infotech. My status is more of an investor in the company,” said Satish.
Partap Agarwal didn’t reply to HT’s phone call and text message.
On the allegation that IDS was a vehicle of channelling bribe money, Satish Bagrodia said since Partap Agarwal running the company he is not aware of it. “But I believe IDS Infotech has done nothing wrong,” he said. Satish also claimed that except IDS Infotech, he doesn’t have any other business venture with Partap Agarwal.
But documents available with HT reveal that the business relations between Agarwal and Bagrodia run much deeper. Agarwal is director in nine companies besides being managing director of two other companies-IDS Infotech Limited and IDS Engineering Limited. Satish Bagrodia and his sons Ashish and Manish are also directors in IDS Engineering.
Manish Bagrodia and Partap Agarwal are also jointly directors in at least four more companies -- Delta Infoway, IDS Infosys, IDS Argus Healthcare and IDS SITEL Technologies.