The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday arrested Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri, the former executive director of Moser Baer, in connection with a Rs 354-crore bank fraud case filed by Central Bank of India, an agency official said.
The CBI had booked Puri and others in connection with the bank fraud case, officials said on Sunday.
The ED’s action came three days after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against Puri, his company, his father and Managing Director Deepak Puri, Directors Nita Puri (Ratul’s mother and Kamal Nath’s sister), Sanjay Jain and Vineet Sharma for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption.
The CBI on Sunday had also carried out searches at six locations, including the residences and offices of the accused directors.
Ratul had resigned from the post of Executive Director in 2012, while his parents continued to be on the board, the bank had said in a statement.
The company is involved in the manufacture of optical storage media like compact discs, DVDs, solid state storage devices.
The company was taking loans from various banks since 2009 and went for debt restructuring a number of times, the bank alleged in the complaint which is now part of the CBI FIR.
Delhi HC denies anticipatory bail application
Hours later, Delhi High Court dismissed Puri's anticipatory bail application in connection with investigation into the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.
Enforcement Directorate, the agency that is also investigating chopper scam, told the court that his custody was necessary for "an effective investigation".
Justice Sunil Gaur said that Puri was evasive in his replies during questioning by the probe agency, ED, and it was evident from witness statements provided to the court that he was trying to influence them.
"This court is of the prima facie opinion that custodial interrogation of petitioner (Puri) is required for an effective investigation... Upon considering this case in entirety, this court finds that grant of pre- arrest bail to the petitioner would stall the effective investigation in the case," the court said.
It also said that mere attachment of his property in income tax proceedings would not justify grant of pre-arrest bail to him.
Puri had challenged the August 6 order of the trial court dismissing his anticipatory bail plea.
On August 9, the trial court issued a non-bailable warrant against Puri on ED's plea.
Puri faces allegations of if being involved in the now scrapped Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal.
The case pertains to alleged irregularities in the purchase of 12 VVIP choppers from Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland. The deal was scrapped by the NDA government in 2014 over the alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks for securing the deal.
According to the ED, Puri's role surfaced after deportation of another AgustaWestland case accused Rajeev Saxena on January 31 from the UAE and the arrest of Sushen Mohan Gupta, an alleged defence agent.
Saxena has turned approver in the court and is out on bail.
It said the investigation showed Puri's foreign entities received proceeds of crime directly from Interstellar Technologies Limited, an accused company, and he had received funds from both the chains of money laundering involved in the matter.
It said the probe has further revealed that Puri, using shell companies in the name of others, accumulated proceeds of crime which have been parked and later laundered to reach the desired beneficiaries including him.
As per ED, the proceeds of crime have been deposited in the accounts of different companies owned by the accused and he is a key link to unearth the modus operandi adopted by other accused persons and to determine last mile connectivity of the proceeds of crime in the case.
The agency claimed that Puri has also received proceeds of crime from channel of another alleged middleman Christian Michel James.