The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a chargesheet in a money laundering case linked to a UPA-era defence deal with aircraft manufacturer Embrarer, the central probe agency said on Wednesday. It said the prosecution complaint has been filed before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court here and the agency has named Embraer SA, Brazil, Interdev Aviation Services Pte Ltd, KRBL Limited, Anoop Kumar Gupta (director of KRBL Limited), Anurag Potdar (nephew of Anoop Kumar Gupta) and others.
KRBL Ltd is the manufacturer of India Gate Basmati Rice. The case pertains to payment of alleged commission by Embraer to clinch the $208 million deal with India, in which it is suspected and alleged that kickbacks were paid.
The ED, in a statement, said its probe found that "Embraer SA Brazil obtained the contract for supply of aircraft to Indian Air Force for $210 million and paid commission of $5.76 million to a middleman named Vipin Khanna for influencing the said contract in its favour". "The said kickbacks of $5.76 million were routed by Embraer SA, Brazil through its subsidiaries to Interdev Aviation Services Pte Ltd, Singapore in lieu of sham agreement." It alleged the "kickbacks" of around $3.275 million were further routed from Interdev Aviation Services Pte Ltd to KRBL DMCC, Dubai (a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of KRBL Ltd) in lieu of sham agreement to finally reach India through KRBL Ltd "projecting" the same as untainted money.
The agency said its investigation found that "AnoopKumar Gupta signed the sham agreement held between Interdev Aviation Services Pte Ltd. and KRBL DMCC to receive proceeds of crime which were finally received in the bank account of KRBL Ltd, in which he is one of the director". The agency has attached assets worth Rs 16.29 crore in this case till now and it has "prayed for the confiscation" of these immovable properties in its prosecution complaint, it said.
The ED had registered a criminal complaint under PMLA after studying a CBI FIR against Embraer SA of Brazil, unknown officials of the Ministry of Defence, alleged middleman Vipin Khanna, Interdev Aviation Services Pte Ltd of Singapore and others. The ED had alleged that "Embraer, Brazil engaged Vipin Khanna to secure the contract for supplying three fully modified EMB-145 aircrafts to Government of India as platform for Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) project".
The ED and the CBI are probing alleged payment of $5.70 million as commission to seal the deal, officials sources had earlier said. This is one of the defence deals of the previous UPA regime at the Centre, that the two central agencies are probing, besides the AgustaWestland choppers deal case and the Pilatus aircraft deal.
The deal for three aircraft, which were to be used by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for air-borne radar systems, was inked with Embraer in 2008. According to defence procurement rules of India, middlemen are strictly barred in defence deals.
A Brazilian newspaper report had alleged that that the company (Embraer) had taken the services of middlemen to clinch deals in Saudi Arabia and India. Embraer, while reacting to the case in the past, had said, "Since 2011, Embraer has publicly reported that it has been conducting an extensive internal investigation and cooperating with the authorities on investigations regarding alleged violations of the (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) FCPA." "The company voluntarily expanded the scope of the investigation, systematically reporting the progress of the case to the market. The company is not party of the legal proceedings in Brazil. Therefore, it does not have access to the information contained therein," it had said.