AgustaWestland scam: Kamal Nath’s nephew granted relief, interim protection from arrest extended
The special judge said there was no need to arrest Ratul Puri as he was cooperating with the inquiry. The case will be heard again on Tuesday.
A court in Delhi on Monday extended the interim protection granted to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri by a day in a money laundering case related to the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter scam, PTI reported.
Puri, who is the chairperson of Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt Ltd, had told the court on Saturday that he was anticipating arrest in the case. The court had granted him protection till Monday.
During proceedings, the Enforcement Directorate told Special Judge Arvind Kumar that Puri had received money transacted during the scam. The agency pointed out that on Friday he had given investigators the slip after asking for a break to use the washroom. Officials tried to contact him on his mobile phone but it was switched off. The directorate wants Puri to appear for interrogation again.
“In the middle of the ongoing investigation, the applicant chose to leave the office of the respondent admittedly, only highlighting his non-cooperation and deliberate evasion,” the agency told the court on Monday. “Investigation has revealed that Ratul Puri has received funds from both the chains of money laundering involved.”
However, Puri’s lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleged political vendetta, and said the directorate wanted to arrest his client as two Bharatiya Janata party lawmakers had joined the ruling Congress in the state a few days ago.
The judge observed that Puri was cooperating in the investigation, and said there was no need to arrest him. The hearing and further arguments on the anticipatory bail granted to him will continue on Tuesday, according to ANI.
The agency had questioned Puri on April 4. It had informed a Delhi court the same month that Puri had been summoned for interrogation so that he could be confronted with Sushen Mohan Gupta, an alleged middleman in the case who has been arrested. However, Puri has denied any involvement in the scam.
The former Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had signed the Rs 3,565-crore helicopter deal in 2010 with the British-Italian firm AgustaWestland. The deal was put on hold after Italy arrested the head of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland’s parent company, on charges of paying bribes to win the contract. Christian Michel was extradited to India in January and is now lodged in Tihar Jail.