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ED arrests businessman in VVIP choppers money laundering case

Joint MD of a basmati rice firm alleged linked to kickbacks from 12-chopper deal

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested businessman Anoop Kumar Gupta in connection with a money laundering probe into the over Rs 3,600-crore VVIP choppers purchase scam case, official sources said on Saturday.

They said Gupta, the joint managing director of KRBL Limited that sells India Gate basmati rice, has been sent to five-day custody of the central probe agency after he was produced before a special court for cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) here.

ED sources said Gupta was arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case and alleged he was not cooperating in the ongoing probe.

His custodial interrogation was necessary in light of some fresh evidence gathered by the Enforcement Directorate that pertains to "proceeds of crime" or alleged kickbacks of the deal being paid to a firm "controlled" by Gupta, they said.

Gupta's lawyers told the court that his arrest was "not justified" and pleaded that he should not be sent to ED custody owing to his medical condition as he suffers from diabetes and other ailments.

The agency, in its remand application, said two streams were used for channelling about Euro 70 million worth "proceeds of crime" or bribe money to various political persons, bureaucrats and Indian Air Force officials in return of swinging the 12 helicopters deal in favour of AgustaWestland.

"It is submitted that IDS Information Technology and Engineering Sarl, Tunisia has received proceeds of crime to the tune of Euro 24.37 million from AgustaWestland and out of this about Euro 12.4 million were further transferred to Interstellar Technologies Limited, Mauritius."

"The proceeds of crime were further transferred to various companies including Rawasi Al Khaleej General Trading (RAKGT) LLC Dubai which was incorporated in 2007 by KRBL DMCC, Dubai and accused Anoop Gupta was one of the director of this company," the ED alleged.

This company (KRBL DMCC) was a subsidiary of KRBL Limited (India), it said.

The ED said that "in 2009, the entire stake (49 per cent shareholding) of KRBL DMCC held in RAKGT was transferred in the name of one Anurag Potdar but in fact, even after this, RAKGT is under the control of KRBL Limited through Gupta and part of the proceeds of crime received in RAKGT were transferred to KRBL Limited."

It claimed that it obtained some documents in December last year pertaining to these purported links and they show that Gupta was "controlling" the financial transactions of this (RAKGT) company.

Gupta has been named by the ED in an another alleged defence deal scam involving aircraft manufacturer Embraer.

The businessman was named in a charge sheet by the agency in December in that case that pertains to payment of alleged commission by Embraer to clinch the USD 208-million deal with India, in which it is suspected and alleged that kickbacks were paid.

The ED slapped money laundering charges to probe allegations of irregularities in the now-cancelled deal to purchase of 12 VVIP choppers from Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland.

The deal was scrapped by India in 2014. 

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