Delhi HC rejects Ratul Puri’s anticipatory bail plea in VIP chopper scam
Hours after Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Tuesday in connection with a Rs 354-crore bank fraud case, the Delhi high court dismissed his anticipatory bail plea in a money-laundering case in the AgustaWestland chopper scam..
Puri is under probe for alleged money laundering in the Rs 3,600 crore VIP chopper scam.
“The court, prima facie is of the opinion that custodial interrogation of the petitioner is required for an effective investigation. Mere attachment of the petitioner’s property in income tax proceedings would not justify grant of pre-arrest bail to the petitioner, who is not only evasive in his reply but is also trying to influence the witnesses. It is so evident from the statement of the witnesses recorded by the respondent (ED) which has been provided to the court in sealed cover,” Justice Sunil Gaur said in his order.
A former Executive Director of Moser Baer, a manufacturer of digital data storage devices, Puri had applied for anticipatory bail after a trial court issued non-bailable warrants against him on August 9 on a plea by the ED which claimed that he was not cooperating and was untraceable and had failed to turn up to join the investigation despite a notice asking him to do so.
The AgustaWestland case centres around allegations that bribes were paid to “middlemen”, perhaps even politicians, when India signed a deal to buy 12 helicopters built by Italian defence manufacturer Finmeccanica (now known as the Leonardo group) for Rs 3,600 crore. The deal was cancelled in January 2014 after the allegations of bribery surfaced.
Kamal Nath described the arrest of his nephew as “purely mala fide” action.
Earlier this month, the income tax (I-T) department attached $40 million foreign direct investment (FDI) and a R300-crore worth bungalow in upscale Lutyens’ Delhi of Ratul Puriand his father Deepak Puri under benami property transactions law.