ED may register criminal complaint in VVIP chopper deal

With the government ordering a CBI probe, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) may also register a criminal case of money laundering to probe allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal from an Italian defence and aerospace firm.

The agency has already been conducting a probe since last year for alleged violation of forex laws in the country in the conduct of this deal. Sources said the ED will take a call to register a case under the stringent clauses of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) once the CBI files an FIR and also will take in account its ongoing investigation under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

The agency has also gathered some inputs regarding the transactions done to procure 12 VVIP service helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland in 2010.

The case came to the fore again yesterday after the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company that is suspected of paying bribes of about Rs 362 crore in India to get orders for helicopters to ferry Indian VVIPs was arrested, prompting the government to order a CBI probe.

The ED, sources said, has also approached their foreign counterparts in Italy for official records but the agency is still to get the desired help.

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