AgustaWestland case: Accused Ratul Puri fails to appear before ED to depose in money laundering case

New Delhi: Ratul Puri, the businessman nephew of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, skipped his appearance before the ED on Tuesday even as his anticipatory bail plea in the VVIP choppers money-laundering case was rejected by a Delhi court.

Officials said Puri was asked to depose before the investigating officer (IO) of the case but he did not join. It was not immediately known if the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had given him a fresh date to appear and if Puri had filed a reason for his absence before the agency.

 AgustaWestland case: Accused Ratul Puri fails to appear before ED to depose in money laundering case

File image of Ratul Puri. Wikimedia Commons.

The central agency wants to grill Puri in light of certain pieces of evidence gathered in the case and statements of other accused, including Dubai-based operator Rajeev Saxena. Saxena was deported to India in January and he is in custody at present.

Earlier in the day, a court in Delhi dismissed Puri's anticipatory bail plea in the money-laundering case related to the alleged VVIP choppers or the AgustaWestland choppers scam, noting that the investigation was at a crucial stage. The court directive has now paved the way for the ED to arrest him.

Special judge Arvind Kumar also junked two separate applications filed by Puri seeking a copy of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) and a statement recorded under section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). An ECIR is the ED equivalent of a police FIR.

Puri, chairman of Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt Ltd, had approached the court on 27 July seeking anticipatory bail in the case, saying he feared arrest. On the same day, he appeared before the agency for questioning, but slipped out after some time.

The ED has been seeking Puri's custody to further investigate the matter. The agency's counsel had earlier contended before the trial court that the businessman was an influential person and might flee the country.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in the purchase of 12 VVIP choppers from Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland. The deal was scrapped by the NDA government in 2014 over the alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks.

According to the ED, Puri's role surfaced after the grilling of Saxena and the arrest of another accused, Sushen Mohan Gupta, an alleged defence agent.

The agency said the investigation had shown that foreign entities allegedly linked to Puri received the proceeds of crime directly from Interstellar Technologies Limited and he had received funds from both the chains of money laundering involved in the present matter.

The agency had also claimed that Puri received the proceeds of crime from another channel that was linked to alleged middleman Christian Michel James.

Updated Date: Aug 06, 2019 21:29:41 IST