ED questions Aeromatrix CEO in VVIP choppers deal case

Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday questioned Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi in connection with the money laundering probe into the alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP Agustawestland helicopter deal.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 24, 2014, 22:18 PM IST

New Delhi: Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday questioned Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi in connection with the money laundering probe into the alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP Agustawestland helicopter deal.

Agency sleuths, sources said, recorded Bakshi's statement under the criminal provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act after questioning him for over two hours, a day after it arrested ex-board member of Aeromatrix Gautam Khaitan in this case.

The sources said Bakshi's questioning was important as it suspects illegal bribe money was purportedly sent to Aeromatrix from abroad in the garb of engineering contracts under the VVIP choppers deal.

They said Bakshi was questioned about the structuring of the company, his relations with alleged Italian middlemen Guido Ralph Hashcke and Carlo Gerosa and the engineering contracts with Mauritius-based firms.

ED, the sources said, is in possession of documents which show Bakshi's name in purported conversations recorded by Italian investigators which formed the basis of his questioning.

Bakshi, who has earlier denied any wrongdoing in this deal, has been questioned by CBI last year.

The report prepared and submitted by Italian investigators had stated that Hashcke and Gerosa allegedly received commission worth crores of rupees from Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland for swinging the VVIP helicopter deal in favour of the firm.

Investigators, quoting the Italian prosecution report, suspect a substantial portion of the alleged bribe money was allegedly routed to Indian companies--IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix--camouflaged as payments for some engineering contracts from Tunisia and Mauritius.