VVIP Chopper deal: ED searches premises of Delhi businessman

British AgustaWestland AW101 'Merlin' HC3A in June 2012 (Source: Wikipedia, Cpl Phil Major ABIPP RAF)
ED Friday conducted searches on the premises of a Delhi-based businessman, alleged to be a contact of British national and suspected middleman Christian Mitchel, in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal.

Officials said agency sleuths swooped down on the premises of the businessman in south Delhi after he failed to comply with summons issued to him to present himself before ED investigators here last week.

They said some documents and computer hardware have been seized by the agency.

The businessman, according to investigators, has been involved in creating an overseas firm with Mitchel along with his daughter and others and hence the agency had asked him to join investigations and record his statement under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The agency, sources said, wanted to understand the "financial relationship" of these people who had created an offshore entity with Mitchel, approximately around the same time when the 12 choppers deal was being finalised and was in final stages of execution.

They said the businessman, who lives in the United Kingdom, had also got some funds through the firm which is said to have been sent by Michel along with a Danish woman who was the middlemen's aide while working in India.

Both ED and CBI had notified an Interpol arrest warrant against Mitchel.

He is amongst the three alleged middle men being probed in the case by the two agencies.

ED had registered a PMLA case in this regard in 2014 and named 21 people including former Indian Air Force Chief S P Tyagi in its money laundering FIR.

It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan and had also filed a charge sheet last year.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to 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.

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