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VVIP chopper deal: Ex-IAF Air Marshal quizzed by ED

Source: PTI
March 19, 2015 21:30 IST
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Enforcement Directorate on Thursday questioned former Indian Air Force Air Marshal Gautam Nayyar in connection with its money laundering probe in the multi-crore AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal.

Sources said Air Marshal (retd) Nayyar was questioned by ED investigators for over eight hours as they also recorded his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Nayyar did not talk to the waiting media after he emerged from the ED office in New Delhi.

Sources said he, “Denied any wrongdoing in the entire deal as he said he was not in-charge of the procurement division of the IAF which handles new acquisitions.”

The agency had summoned Nayyar as it had detected that the retired top IAF commander had got some funds allegedly from European middlemen and an accused in the case Christian Michel James.

“Nayyar was questioned about funds that have been remitted in his accounts reportedly by Michel or on his behest. The amount under suspicion is to the tune of Rs 80 lakh,” sources said.

They said the agency had tracked these payments being made by Michel to Nayyar and his junior, a Group Captain rank officer, as “personal unexplained payments” which includes reimbursements made in connection with some foreign travels.

ED suspects the money received in a private consultancy firm floated by the former IAF officer had links to “kickbacks” paid by the Italian firm to crack the Rs 3,600 crore deal. 

Nayyar, they said, had got suspect funds in his account during 2010-11 and he had worked with retired IAF chief SP Tyagi for close to three months and subsequently he looked after the maintenance operations of the IAF at the Air Headquarters in New Delhi.

They said Nayyar and the other IAF officer were operating a private aviation and air defence consultancy firm and were in touch with Michel and other suspected middlemen and businessmen working in international aviation domain.

The agency has also written to the Ministry of Defence to elicit some more information in this regard, they said.

Nayyar has been summoned again by the agency next week and has been asked to bring “additional documents” pertaining to his personal financial transactions.

The ED had registered a criminal case under PMLA last year to probe alleged financial violations in the 12 VVIP choppers deal by India from AgustaWestland.

The agency has arrested businessman lawyer Gautam Khaitan in this case last year and he is currently out on bail after ED filed its first charge sheet in the same case. 

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