The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday conducted searches on 10 premises of three Indian firms in Delhi,Mumbai and Hyderabad, in connection with the AgustaWestland scam.
Based on the searches, the ED froze shares worth Rs 86 crore held in these firms by Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, two European middlemen who are wanted in the AgustaWestland scam. These shares were frozen under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The shares, it is alleged, were bought with illegal commissions worth Euro 28 million that the two middlemen got from UK-based AgustaWestland Limited for helping it bag an Indian 2010 deal.
According to the ED, the bribes were paid to Gerosa and Haschke by AW via a Tunisian firm, IDS Tunisia, that transferred the fund to a Mauritius firm, Interstellar, allegedly controlled by them.
Interstellar in turn bought the Indian firms’ shares in layered transactions, via firms located in Dubai and Singapore. “The shares were bought from the Euro 12.4 million that Interstellar received from IDS Tunisia as a bribe instalment for Haschke and Gerosa,” said an ED source.
The Rs 3,727 crore Indian deal was for the supply of 12 AW-101 choppers. (ED)’s first information report of 2014 had accused AW of deploying three European middlemen ---Haschke, Gerosa and Christian Michel---for using bribes to ease a key technical requirement of the contract. The requirement, which was related to a chopper’s maximum flying capacity, was reduced from 6,000 metre to 4500 metre. AW choppers’ capacity was around 4500 metre only and was otherwise ineligible. The deal was revoked by India in 2014 after alleged irregularities in the purchase came to light.
The ED has submitted two chargeseets in the case so far, charging Gerosa, Haschke, Michel, three Indians and an Indian firm for alleged money-laundering.