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'Fresh freeze on Quattrocchi's a/c will take time'
H S Rao in London | January 18, 2006 00:20 IST
Asserting that the order to defreeze Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi's bank accounts cannot be revoked, British authorities on Tuesday said the Indian government would have to make a fresh request in this regard.
"There has to be a fresh application by India, satisfying the usual criteria while seeking a fresh freeze on the accounts of Quattrocchi," a spokeswoman of the Crown Prosecution Service told PTI when asked if the freeze could be reinstated.
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"An order cannot be reinstated. It would have to be a fresh application satisfying the usual criteria. However, the High Court is likely to query any application for another restraining order given the earlier application to discharge the original order. The Court is likely to ask for evidence as to how and why there has been a change in circumstances," she said.
To a question on how long it will take once the Indian authorities make a fresh request to freeze the accounts again, she said, "Generally speaking, these requests can be taken up by the court in a matter of days and in extreme circumstances even quicker. Even if the British authorities dealt swiftly with a new Indian request, processing it would take a few days. We have not taken any further action after the High Court removed the restraints on the accounts on January 11," the spokeswoman said.
Asked whether CPS had received a fresh request from the Indian authorities to freeze the accounts, the spokeswoman replied in the negative. "The situation remains the same. The Crown Prosecution Service continues to liaise with and provide assistance to the Indian authorities. As we are acting on behalf of the Indian authorities, we cannot discuss the confidential details of our discussions with them."
The two accounts of Quattrocchi in London banks were defreezed after Additional Solicitor General from India B Dutta met CPS lawyers last December. The CPS then corresponded with the High Court, which 'discharged the restraining order' on January 11.
According to sources, the CBI communicated to the CPS in December last year that the agency had so far not been able to link the money with the Bofors kickbacks, a move which eventually led to defreezing of the accounts besides creating a political uproar in India.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Union of India and the Central Bureau of Investigation on a petition regarding unlocking of Quattrocchi's accounts in Britain. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal directed that the government should take steps to ensure that the frozen accounts were not unlocked and if they had been unlocked, the government should ensure that no money was withdrawn from the account.