CBI books Pawan Hans officials for diversion of fund

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) logo at CBI HQ, in New Delhi. (PTI photo)

Unidentified officials of Pawan Hans, country's chopper service company, transferred around Rs 1.85 crore meant for a Russian firm engaged in repairing of Mi-172 helicopters to a bank account in Indonesia following an email they thought was from the company they were doing business with.

The CBI has now registered a case against unidentified officials after Klimov JSC, the company engaged by Pawan Hans in May 2015, informed the government through the Interior Ministry of Russian Federation that it is heading to arbitration court to recover its due.

Investigators are now probing whether the officials were duped in an email fraud or whether it was a deliberate act to siphon off money.

Pawan Hans, a Public Sector Unit (PSU), had entered into a service agreement with the Russian firm for servicing and overhauling three TV 311 VM engines of Mi-172 engines. The Indian firm was to pay an advance for which an invoice of Rs 1.85 crore was sent.

Klimov's invoice was dated 19 June 2015 and had mentioned details of JP Morgan Chase Bank in New York in which the amount was to be transferred. As Klimov did not receive the payment in this account, it sent a reminder to Pawan Hans.

On checking records, Pawan Hans found that it had received an mail from 'service@inbox.ru' on 12 December 2015 which asked the company to make the advance payment in its offshore company account in Municipal Bank in Bulgaria due to financial account auditing in their company.

Pawan Hans had not made the payment till then as it had not dispatched the engines. It sent the engines only in February 2016, which was acknowledged through an email from 'service@klimov.co' while asking for payment in advance in an account in 'Bank Mandi, Indonesia'. The Russian company later told Pawan Hans it's email id is 'service@inbox.ru' and not 'service@klimov.co'.

This money was deposited through wire transfer the next month. However, the twist in the tale came as Klimov claimed that they do not own the mail id. The Russian firm also said that it had not intimated Pawan Hans about any change in details of any Indonesian account.

Officials said the Russian investigating agencies found that the Indonesian account belonged to one Bagus Setiawan.

After the Russian government informed the Indian government in December 2016, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) asked to look into the matter and on its direction, the CBI has now started its investigation in the case.

In his September 2018 report, Chief Vigilance Officer of Pawan Hans Rakesh Kumar said that the case “appears to be where payment has been done on the basis of emails received which are alleged to be fake or fraudulent”. 

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