NEW DELHI: A Delhi court Friday issued non-bailable warrants (NBW) against businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in connection with a money laundering case related to the AgustaWestland chopper scam.
Special Judge Arvind Kumar passed order, while noting ED’s submissions that Puri may try to tamper with evidence and influence the witnesses as he already did earlier.
The court noted in its order that the accused’s counsel had filed an application before it for impleading him as a party in the ED’s application for NBW.
The court, which dismissed Puri’s application for impleading him in the matter, said, “It shows that applicant is keeping a watch on court proceedings but does not want to appear before ED to join investigation.” “It is alleged that accused has tampered with evidence, influenced the witnesses and there is reasonable apprehension that he is still trying to tamper with evidence and influence the witnesses.
“In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, I consider it fit to issue Non Bailable Warrant against accused Puri. Let NBW be issued against Puri,” the court said.
According to ED, Puri has not been joining investigation since he was granted interim protection on July 27 on his application for anticipatory bail, which was later dismissed on August 6.
The ED said he did not join the probe on July 29, 30, 31 and further on August 6 and 7, nor was he accessible on phone or at his residence and that his whereabouts were not known.
While seeking NBW, the ED told the court that if not arrested, Puri may compromise investigation in the case.
Puri’s advocate had opposed ED’s application, while urging the court to hear his submissions before passing any order on the agency’s plea.
The ED had approached the court days after Puri failed to get relief from the Delhi High Court and the trial court on August 6, paving the way for ED to arrest him.
The High Court had dismissed his petition seeking a direction to the trial court not to pronounce order on his anticipatory bail plea without hearing his other pending applications.
Hours later, the trial court dismissed his anticipatory bail plea, noting that the probe was at a crucial stage. The agency Wednesday moved the court seeking NBW, alleging that Puri was non-cooperative and untraceable.
It said Puri was directed to join the investigation on Tuesday but he failed to turn up before the agency.
“The probe agency has the rights which are being violated. This man (Puri) slipped from my (ED) office. He also blatantly non-cooperated after an interim order was granted by this court. He stopped coming before the ED,” the agency said.
Puri had approached the trial court on July 27 seeking anticipatory bail in the matter, seeking protection from arrest.
The court on July 27 granted him interim protection from arrest till July 29, which was later extended from time to time until his application got dismissed on August 6. Puri earlier appeared before the ED for questioning in the case.
The agency has been seeking the businessman’s custody to further investigate the matter.
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 for securing the deal.
According to the ED, Puri’s role surfaced after deportation of another AgustaWestland case accused Rajeev Saxena on January 31 from UAE and the arrest of Sushen Mohan Gupta, an alleged defence agent.
It said the investigation showed his foreign entities received proceeds of crime directly from Interstellar Technologies Limited, an accused company, and he had received funds from both the chains of money laundering involved in the matter.
It said the probe has further revealed that the applicant, using shell companies in the name of others, accumulated proceeds of crime which have been parked and later laundered to reach the desired beneficiaries including the applicant amongst other.
As per ED, the proceeds of crime have been deposited in the accounts of different companies owned by the accused and he is a key link to unearth the modus operandi adopted by other accused persons and to determine last mile connectivity of the proceeds of crime in the case. The agency also claimed that Puri has also received proceeds of crime from channel of another alleged middleman Christian Michel James.
Source: Press Trust of India