New Delhi: Initiating fresh action in the VVIP choppers deal case, the Enforcement Directorate on Monday froze shares to the tune of Rs 86 crore as the probe agency alleged they were procured through kickbacks received by two middlemen in the purchase of helicopters from Italy.
The decision to freeze the shares was taken after the ED conducted searches on 10 premises in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad last week.
ED in a statement said that during the course of probe in the case, an amount of 28 million Euro (Rs 214 crore approx) was paid to Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, the two alleged middlemen in the Rs 3,600 crore deal, through a Tunisa-based company.
Later an amount of 12.4 million Euro (Rs 95 crore) was transferred to a web of companies based in Mauritius, Dubai, Singapore before landing up in three Indian companies who purchased shares from the said funds.
Officials said the agency has also seized a number of documents and computer hardware after the searches. It added that it "unearthed the evidences of transfer of funds" after the searches and hence now it has issued orders to freeze shares of certain firms worth Rs 86.07 crore that are located in the three countries.
The freezing of assets (shares) has been done under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The agency had recently filed a fresh charge sheet in the case naming British national and alleged middlemen in the deal Christian Michel James as part of its probe.
He is the third middleman, apart from Haschke and Gerosa, who is being investigated by both the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI.
ED had registered a PMLA case to probe this deal in 2014 and named 21 people, including former IAF chief S P Tyagi, in its FIR.
It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan in the case, who is out on bail now.
It had earlier submitted (as part of its first charge sheet) that Khaitan was on the board of Aeromatrix, a Chandigarh-based company that was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in the chopper deal.
On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.
The ED and the CBI had issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to multiple countries to gather more leads and evidences in this case....