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ED Raids Multiple Cities In IAF Pilatus Jet Money Laundering Case

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Last July, the Defence Ministry had suspended all deals with Pilatus Aircraft Limited for one year.

New Delhi:

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today raided at least 14 premises, including a dozen in Delhi and one each in Gurugram and Surat, in connection with a money laundering case linked to the alleged corruption in the purchase of 75 Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force in 2009.

The raids were in connection with a case filed by the CBI in the Rs 2,895-crore Pilatus deal. The case, filed in June last year, names missing arms consultant and alleged middleman Sanjay Bhandari, unidentified officials of the Indian Air Force, the Defence Ministry and Switzerland-based Pilatus Aircraft Limited in this case.

In July, the Defence Ministry had suspended all business dealings with Pilatus Aircraft Limited for one year following charges of payment of kickbacks. 

“Bhandari, who is stated to be in the UK, is being probed for alleged money laundering and illegal asset creation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,” officials said, adding that the ED is set to initiate extradition proceedings against him.

He is also facing separate probes by the ED and the CBI for corruption and alleged possession of undeclared assets in India and abroad.

In June 2010, Swiss Company Pilatus – one of the bidders – conspired with Bhandari and another director at Offset India Solutions Private Limited to sign an agreement for supplying 75 basic Trainer Aircrafts to the Indian Air Force, in violation of the Defence Procurement Procedure, the CBI has alleged.

In November, Pilatus went on to sign a pact with the Defence Ministry by allegedly concealing its service provider agreement with Bhandari.

Pilatus bagged the contract on May 24, 2012 for Rs 2,895.63 crore.

The CBI said it is suspected that a commission was paid to influence IAF officials, the Ministry of Defence and other government departments, associated with the procurement.

The agency added that Pilatus allegedly concealed payments made to Bhandari’s companies in India and Dubai as he routed money through purchase of various companies and cash transactions involving one Deepak Aggarwal and one Himanshu Verma.

“There is a strong suspicion that cash amount (Rs 25.5 crore) was part of the commission amounts paid by Pilatus Aircrafts Limited to Bhandari to obtain the contract,” the CBI alleged.

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