ED begins forex violations probe into VVIP chopper deal case

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New Delhi, Jun 29: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has begun financial investigations into allegations of bribery in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal with AgustaWestland.

Sources said the agency has registered a case under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to probe alleged violations of forex laws and the authorities are set to issue notices to various Indian firms and individuals allegedly involved in the case.

They said that ED would also get in touch with Defence Ministry to obtain relevant documents and other vital details available with them in this regard.

The agency has separately got in touch with some banks which were found to have been used to channel funds of private firms and individuals allegedly involved in the case.

CBI is already probing the deal that was scrapped by the previous UPA government in December last year. It has registered a case in the matter against former Indian Air Force Chief S P Tyagi along with 13 others, including his cousins and European middlemen.

The allegation against the former Air Chief is that he reduced the flying ceiling of the helicopter so that AgustaWestland company was included in the bids.

Tyagi has refuted the allegation against him. CBI recently also questioned West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan as a "witness" in the case.

Sources in ED said that once the probe into the alleged contraventions of forex laws reaches a "satisfactory" level, it would be examined whether there is a need for filing a separate criminal case under money laundering laws.

Defence Ministry has also encashed a major chunk of bank guarantees worth over Rs 2,400 crore deposited by AgustaWestland in banks in Italy and India after the deal was scrapped in January.

PTI

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