A Delhi court on Wednesday extended the Enforcement Directorate’s custody of businessman Ratul Puri by five days in connection with a money laundering case related to the AgustaWestland chopper scam, PTI reported. The investigating agency was granted the extension till September 16 to interrogate Puri, whose custody was supposed to end on Wednesday.
Last week, the businessman, who is the nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate. He was already in the investigating agency’s custody in connection with an alleged bank fraud case.
Special Public Prosecutor DP Singh, representing the Enforcement Directorate, said that the extension was required to establish the “flow of tainted money” and the role of the others accused in the case, according to Bar and Bench. The agency further said that its inquiry into the case was going on.
Singh submitted on Wednesday that certain documents, including handwritten notes and emails, had been seized during a raid at the residence of Niamat Bakshi, who is also being investigated by the agency in the case, according to Live Law.
Puri had to be confronted with the recovered documents, the agency’s counsel said, adding that he had been evasive and was not cooperative during questioning. The lawyer said that he had also refused to recognise the material seized from Bakshi’s house.
The businessman’s counsel, Vijay Aggarwal, argued that there was no reason for an extension of Puri’s custody as the agency had failed to establish any basis for it. He also said that Puri had no links with any of the entities and emails under the agency’s scanner in the chopper scam.
Aggarwal also claimed that the agency could attempt to make Puri non-evasive during the extension by using third-degree methods. He said that if the Enforcement Directorate wanted to question the businessman, its officials could go to Tihar Jail and do so instead of asking for police custody.
Puri is accused of receiving kickbacks in the AgustaWestland deal. He has been questioned several times in the past few months by investigating agencies for alleged tax evasion. The previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had signed the Rs 3,565-crore helicopter deal in 2010 with the British-Italian firm AgustaWestland. Following Italy’s arrest of the head of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland’s parent company, on charges of paying bribes to win the contract, the deal was put on hold. Christian Michel was extradited to India in January and is now lodged in Tihar Jail.
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