VVIP chopper deal: ED writes to MoD, other investigative agencies

AgustaWestland AW101 (Source: PTI)
In an attempt to crack the suspect name codes and the alleged kickbacks paid in the VVIP choppers deal, ED has urged the Defence Ministry, Income Tax department and FIU to share details about officials and other individuals figuring in the case.

Officials said the agency has sought property details on ten serving and retired officials of the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Air Force who had handled the procurement process of the AgustaWestland choppers at some point of their service.

It has also sought details from the IT department and the Financial Intelligence Unit to provide details of personal finances, transactions and investments made by some people suspected to have some connection to the case.

They said the references have been made in the light of a hand written note by the alleged middlemen in the case, a document also brought on record by a Milan court which had sentenced Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica's former chief Giuseppe Orsi and the former CEO of the firm Bruno Spagnolini on corruption charges in the sale of a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters to India for VVIP purposes.

Sources indicate ED investigators have made some "analysis" of the probable identity of these code names and hence want to investigate the flow of funds and the "proceeds of crime" and possible kickbacks made in the procurement of these choppers.

With the help of data from the tax department and FIU, some evidence can be established, they said.

To the Defence Ministry, ED has specified names of officials about whom they need the details of assets possessed.

"This service-maintained data will be matched with current data being provided by the IT and FIU," they said adding some officials of the MoD are in top positions now.

Widening its probe in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal, the ED has also begun a trail of "cash" which is suspected to have been paid as alleged kickbacks for the purchase of these helicopters from UK-based AgustaWestland.

The financial probe agency has set the ball rolling with the second round of questioning of witnesses and accused in connection with the scam.

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