Published On: Fri, Aug 7th, 2020

Pilatus deal: ED searches at 14 locations in PMLA case

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is conducting searches at 14 locations within India in connection with its probe into the 2009 deal worth Rs 2,893 crore for the supply of 75 Pilatus PC-7 basic trainer aircraft, officials said on Friday.

The CBI alleged that kickbacks of up to Rs 339 crore were paid in the deal

Top ED officials said that the searches were going on at locations linked to Sanjay Bhandari and other accused in the case registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

These locations included 12 in Delhi, one in Haryana’s Gurugram and one in Gujarat’s Surat.

The ED action comes after it registered a money laundering case against Bhandari, officials of Swiss company Pilatus Aircraft Ltd and some unknown officials of the Indian Air Force and the Defence Ministry in the trainer aircraft deal.

Bhandari is already under investigation for allegedly buying a ‘benami’ house for Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra in London.

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).

According to the CBI, the IAF issued a request proposal on December 16, 2009 for the procurement of 75 basic trainer aircraft.

The CBI alleged that Pilatus Aircraft Ltd of Switzerland, one of the bidders, in order to bag the contract entered into a criminal conspiracy with Bimal Sareen and Bhandari by fraudulently signing a Service Provider Agreement with the latter in June 2010 in violation of the Defence Procurement Procedure 2008.

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.

On December 12, 2010, Pilatus Aircraft had signed a pre-contract integrity pact with the Defence Ministry by “deliberately concealing” the fact that the company had signed a Service Provider Agreement with Bhandari’s company.

Pilatus Aircraft even allegedly concealed the facts about payments made to Offset India Solutions FZC.

Last month, the ED filed a money laundering case against Bhandari in connection with the Samsung-ONGC deal during the UPA rule.

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