The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday carried out searches in premises linked to Ratul Puri, the nephew of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath. The raids are being conducted in Delhi and Noida in connection with a new FIR filed against Ratul Puri and father Deepak Puri, both directors of Moser Baer Solar Ltd, in a case related to alleged loss of Rs 787 crore to a consortium of banks.
State-run Punjab National Bank, which had played a lead role in this consortium, had complained to the CBI.
“In the view of Covid-19, all precautions regarding health and safety are being taken while conducting the searches including provision of PPE (personal protection equipment) kits to all the search teams”, says RK Gaur, CBI Spokesperson.
A CBI official said a fresh case was registered against Ratul Puri on the basis of the Punjab National Bank’s complaint.
This is the CBI’s second FIR against him. He was named in a Rs 354 crore bank fraud case in August last year.
The Enforcement Directorate had also moved in, accusing him of involvement in bank frauds amounting to Rs 7,900 crore. In its charge-sheet, the Enforcement Directorate had alleged that Ratul Puri misused funds loaned from the bank to maintain a lavish lifestyle including holidays abroad and travel in private jets.
Puri, a key accused in the money laundering probe linked to the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper purchase scam, was arrested in August last year and eventually released on bail in December.
Former chief minister Kamal Nath had accused the BJP of orchestrating raids by central agencies, claiming that the investigation against Ratul Puri was a victim of political vendetta.
The probe agencies, which have attempted to tie Puri to the VVIP chopper scandal, have said they had found print-outs of emails that is alleged to link Puri to corporate entities allegedly created to park money received as kickbacks in the AgustaWestland deal.
The AgustaWestland case centres on allegations that bribes were paid to middlemen, perhaps even politicians, when India agreed to buy 12 AgustaWestland helicopters built by Italian defence manufacturing giant Finmeccanica (now known as the Leonardo group) at an estimated cost of Rs 3,600 crore. The helicopters, manufactured by Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland were for the “Communication Squadron of the Indian Air Force”.
The purchase, cleared in 2010 by the previous United Progressive Alliance government, envisaged replacing ageing Mi-8 choppers to ferry VVIPs like the President, vice-president, Prime Minister and the other dignitaries. The deal was scrapped in 2014 over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks.