New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday questioned businessman Ratul Puri for over seven hours in the national capital in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam, the agency said.
The questioning began at the probe agency’s MTNL building office after Puri arrived there after 11 a.m. following summons issued to him last week to join the probe. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hindustan Powerprojects, one of India’s leading integrated power players in the energy sector, and nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minster Kamal Nath.
The businessman, however, has denied his role in the deal.
“I am cooperating in the investigation and have no connection in the defence deal,” Puri told media before joining the probe.
An official said that Puri’s statement was recorded during his questioning under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED had informed a Delhi court on Wednesday that Puri was summoned in the high-profile case for interrogation and that he would be confronted with Sushen Mohan Gupta, an alleged defence agent arrested by the agency in March-end.
The agency has questioned Puri several times in connection with the contract to supply 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force.
Puri came under the ED scanner after the arrest of Gupta and disclosures by lobbyist Rajiv Saxena. Saxena has turned approver in the case after he was deported from the United Arab Emirates and arrested by the agency here.
An official said that Puri’s name was mentioned in a diary recovered from Gupta’s home. The diary has some details about transactions related to the defence deal which India on January 1, 2014 scrapped with Italy-based Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland over an alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore for securing the contract.
The ED wants to establish Puri’s role in the case on the basis of evidences and links it has gathered during investigation of the case.
The central anti-money laundering probe agency also made a reference to the initials “RG”, which, it said, finds mention in several pages of diaries as well as a pen drive recovered from Gupta. ED told the court that in diaries it linked with Gupta, cash entries worth Rs 52 crore have been founded listed against “RG” between 2004 and 2016.
The ED contended that Gupta is not being truthful about who “RG” is, and that its investigators are trying to establish the person’s identity. The ED also told the court that Saxena produced two diaries, some loose sheets of paper, other documents, and a pen drive that connected Gupta directly with the AgustaWestland case.