Chopper scam: Ratul Puri evading probe, claims ED

Ratul Puri is an accused in the Agusta Westland chopper scam case (PTI File Photo)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday told a court here that Ratul Puri, the nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, was evading probe in the Agusta Westland chopper scam-related money laundering case.

The agency made the allegations before special judge Arvind Kumar who was hearing Puri's application seeking cancellation of a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against him.

The agency opposed Puri's plea and said it had called him on various occasions, including on Sunday and Monday, but he did not appear.

Puri's counsel Vijay Aggarwal claimed the agency has been unfair to Puri who is willing to cooperate in the investigation.

"He is willing to join the probe with the ED, but the ED has e-mailed him today at 11:55 am and called him at 1 pm. This is unfair. How can a person join investigation at such a short notice," Aggarwal told the court.

The court reserved for August 21 its order on Puri's application.

The counsel had earlier informed the court that Puri had been granted by the Delhi High Court interim protection from arrest.

The court had issued the NBW against Puri while noting the ED's submissions that the businessman might try to tamper with evidence and influence witnesses "as he already did earlier".

The Delhi High Court had on August 14 granted the interim protection from arrest to Puri till August 20, when it is scheduled to hear the matter further.

The HC had also allowed the ED to call Puri for investigation if required.

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 alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks for securing the deal.

According to the ED, the proceeds of the crime have been deposited in the accounts of different companies owned by Puri and he is a key link to unearth the modus operandi adopted by the other accused and to determine last-mile connectivity of the proceeds.

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