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'Influential' Ratul Puri tampering with evidence in AgustaWestland case: ED


ANI General News
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday told a special court here that businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, was responsible for tampering with evidence and influencing witnesses in a money laundering case related to the VVIP chopper scam.
Opposing Puri's bail plea, Special Public Prosecutor DP Singh, who is representing the ED, told Special Judge Arvind Kumar that the accused was very influential and he may flee the country.
"He is responsible for tampering with evidence and influencing witnesses in the case," Singh submitted in the court.
Singh also said that the agency suspects that Puri might have his hands behind the disappearance of one of the witnesses in the case and rubbished the businessman's allegations of political vendetta.
"It (the case against Puri) is based on proper evidence and ground. We suspect that one of the witnesses has been killed as he is still missing or made to flee somewhere from where he will never come back. This case is not based on the political vendetta as Puri's counsel alleged," the ED's counsel told the court.
The agency also produced a table of Puri's appearances before it and submitted that the businessman was not appearing for questioning on time and often sought an adjournment.
The agency said: "Every time he comes at a different time and seeks adjournment most of the times as he has some big meeting with high and mighty. For most of the questions, he said he will come back with those details."
The prosecution also argued that no person accused in the AgustaWestland case has been granted anticipatory bail.
"Some were granted bail very early as the case was in the initial stages. The court would have taken a different view if all the accused were brought today. These are cases that go against the sovereignty and security of our country," the ED further argued.
Singh, who is appearing for both the ED and the CBI, revealed that Central Bureau of Investigation will very soon file a charge sheet which would "change the course of the investigation".
Meanwhile, the court extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Puri till Wednesday as arguments on the bail petition was inconclusive.
On Monday, Puri's counsel Vijay Aggarwal had argued that "the same court has granted anticipatory bail to Robert Vadra in a case in which he had appeared around nine times, as far as Ratul Puri matter is concerned, my client has visited more than 25 times".
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who also appeared for Puri, had said, "My client is not on flight risk... There is no authentic information of evidence tempering. After Saturday's court direction Ratul Puri was called on Saturday and Sunday also. He has been called 25 times. He has shown cooperation, but after calling him so many time, the agency is still harassing him."
The case pertains to alleged irregularities in purchase of 12 VVIP choppers for Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland. The deal was scrapped by Modi government in 2014 over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore for securing the deal.

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First Published: Jul 30 2019 | 10:05 PM IST

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