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Wednesday, April 17 2024

Chopper case: IDS sent 7.4 lakh euros to Interstellar after Dassault’s payment

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New Delhi: Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech Ltd paid a commission of 7,40,128 euros to Interstellar Holdings Pvt Ltd, which is now known as Interstellar Technologies, on receipt of payments from French defence major Dassault Aviation for a project between May 2003 to November 2006, the CBI has claimed in its charge sheet in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP AgustaWestland case.

Dassault Aviation had later signed a contract with India for the supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets.

The 12,421 page Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) supplementary charge sheet filed in September last year has been viewed by IANS.

The CBI said that Dheeraj Aggarwal, who worked as Chief Financial Officer of IDS Infotech Ltd, in his statement to the agency on March 18, 2019 claimed that “he knew businessman Sushen Mohan Gupta as he was relative of Manish Bagrodia, son of late Satish Bagrodia, who was the Chairman of IDS Infotech and overall in-charge of the company”.

“IDS Infotech Ltd signed an agreement with Interstellar Technologies, which was then known as Interstellar Holding Pvt Ltd,” he said, adding IDS Infotech received an agreement sent by lawyer Gautam Khaitan, which was already signed on behalf of Interstellar Holdings Ltd.

Khaitan was arrested twice by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) each. He is currently out on bail.

Aggarwal, however, said that only Khaitan can explain that who had signed the agreement on behalf of Interstellar Holdings Ltd.

In his statement to the CBI, he said: “As per the agreement, 40 per cent of the commission of the total contract value with Dassault Aviation was to be paid to the agent in the account of Interstellar Holdings Pvt Ltd.”

He further stated that Khaitan structured the agreement for commission as he was the attorney of IDS Infotech Ltd, Chandigarh.

Aggarwal also said that Khaitan had asked him and Pratap Krishan Aggarwal, Managing Director of IDS Infotech Ltd, to send the payment through banking channels to Interstellar Holdings Pvt Ltd.

He said that IDS Infotech Ltd had remitted payments through banking channels to the accounts of Interstellar Holdings Pvt Ltd, Mauritius as per instructions of Khaitan after obtaining approval from the Reserve Bank of India.

“As per the agreement, the payment was required to be sent through foreign outward remittances from bank accounts to the account of Interstellar Holdings Pvt Ltd, Mauritius, after receipt of payment from Dassault Aviation for the works related to software done by IDS Infotech Ltd,” Aggarwal told the CBI.

IDS Infotech Ltd paid a commission of Euro 7,40,128 to Interstellar Holdings Pvt Ltd on receipt of payments from Dassault Aviation for the project between May 2003 to November 2006.

According to the receipt of the payments, Dassault Aviation made payments for the Mapieao Conversion project.

The AgustaWestland case pertains to the purchase of 12 AW-101 helicopters built by Italian defence manufacturing giant Finmeccanica (now known as Leonardo) at an estimated cost of Rs 3,600 crore for ferrying VVIPs.

The CBI, in its supplementary charge sheet, has named Sandeep Tyagi, Praveen Bakshi, Pratap Krishan Aggarwal, Narendra Kumar Jain, Rajesh Kumar Jain of Kolkata, Sunil Kothari, then Managing Director of OM Metals Infotech Private Ltd, and Kunhikrishnan, a close associate of British national and alleged middleman Christian Michel.

The agency has also named alleged middleman Rajiv Saxena, then Director of Interstellar Technologies Ltd, Giacomino Saponaro, then Managing Director of AgustaWestland International Ltd, Deepak Goyal, an official of Khaitan, IDS Infotech Ltd, Aeromatrix Info Solutions Private Ltd, Neel Madhav Consultants Private Ltd, Mainak Agency Private Ltd, and Interstellar Technologies Ltd in the case.

In the deal, cleared in 2010 by the then UPA government, bribes were allegedly paid to middlemen and others.

On January 1, 2014, India cancelled the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland due to alleged breach of contractual obligations and payment of kickbacks amounting to Rs 423 crore.

The CBI had filed a charge sheet in this case on September 1, 2017 against former Indian Air Force chief, S.P. Tyagi and 11 other accused.

In its first charge sheet, the CBI had established a “money trail” of 62 million euros (around Rs 415 crore) out of the suspected 67 million euros (Rs 452 crore) total bribe paid to Indians through middlemen.

The second charge sheet, however, does not name any politician or senior bureaucrat.

By Anand Singh

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