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Pilatus deal: ED searches 14 locations in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday raided various premises in various cities in connection with money laundering case linked to corruption in the purchase of 5 Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2009, an official said.

In total, 14 premises including a dozen in Delhi and one each in Gurgaon and Surat were raided.

The case involves absconding arms consultant and alleged middleman Sanjay Bhandari. He is already facing separate ED and CBI probes for corruption and alleged possession of undeclared assets in the country and abroad.

The CBI had filed a criminal case in the Rs 2,895 crore Pilatus deal last year in June.

The investigative agency had alleged that Pilatus had entered into a criminal conspiracy with Bhandari and Bimal Sareen, both directors of Offset India Solutions Private Limited, and dishonestly and fraudulently signed a Service Provider Agreement with Bhandari in June 2010, which was in violation of the Defence Procurement Procedure, 2008.

The ED registered the case on the basis of a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR in June last year after a preliminary enquiry (PE).

The CBI alleged that kickbacks of up to Rs 339 crore were paid in the deal to influence some unknown IAF and Defence Ministry officials, who were associated with the procurement process.

From 2011 to 2015, Pilatus Aircraft allegedly made payments in the bank accounts of Dubai-based company Offset India Solutions FZC, belonging to Bhandari, to obtain the contract.

The CBI was probing the kind of services that Offset India Solution Pvt Ltd provided to the Swiss aircraft firm. Bhandari`s companies Offset India Solutions Private Limited and Dubai-based Offset India Solutions FZC, as well as his associates Himanshu Verma, Deepak Agarwal and an unknown man have also been named as accused in the case.