At the outset, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Puri, argued that there was no material to show that his client was tampering with evidence and he has not figured in any charge sheet till date. "
The Enforcement Directorate Tuesday dismissed before a Delhi court the allegations of ‘political vendetta’ against Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, for being probed in connection with a money laundering case related to AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam. Puri is an industrialist who is running business and is being probed as he is allegedly guilty of making nefarious payments, ED told the court. “The case came into being in 2014. There is no political vendetta. He (Puri) is an industrialist who is running business and guilty of money laundering. Merely being linked to somebody is not a ground of political vendetta,” advocate D P Singh, appearing for the ED, told the court.
ED made the submission during the hearing of anticipatory bail application filed by Puri before special judge Arvind Kumar, who extended his interim protection from arrest till Wednesday after the arguments on the application remained inconclusive. The agency submitted that Puri is an influential man and if granted bail he might tamper evidence and influence witnesses in the case, while also alleging non-cooperation by him in the probe. Puri was influencing the entire investigation and he is a “flight risk”, it said. “Flight risk” is used to determine whether or not a person being accused of a crime in a court case would consider running away or flying to another country in order to avoid being found guilty and going to prison.
At the outset, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Puri, argued that there was no material to show that his client was tampering with evidence and he has not figured in any charge sheet till date. “There are 6,000 employees working in his companies. He has deep roots in society and to say that he is a flight risk is completely baseless. He has been cooperating from day one in the probe,” Singhvi said, adding that the main accused Sushen Mohan Gupta, an alleged defence agent, is already out on bail.
Singhvi said that Puri has been questioned for almost 200 hours and yet the agency has not recovered any incriminating material against him. The agency said however that in the middle of the ongoing investigation, Puri chose to leave the ED office only highlighting his non-cooperation and deliberate evasion. “He did not come at the allotted time and everyday he made excuses that he has meeting with the high and mighty and sought adjournment on one ground or another. Out of 110 pages he has written about questions asked to him, he has mostly said that he will come back with answers.
He has been least cooperative,” Singh told the court. ED has earlier alleged that the probe has thrown light on his culpability in the case and his concerned foreign entities, in which proceeds of crime (money generated through crime) were received directly from Interstellar Technologies (a co-accused in the case). “Investigation has revealed that Ratul Puri has received funds from both the chains of money laundering involved,” it had said.
According to the ED, while one chain involved middleman Christian Michel James, the other belonged to Rajeev Saxena, a co-accused who recently turned approver in the case. “Investigation has further revealed that the applicant, using the guise of shell companies in the name of others, accumulated proceeds of crime, which have been parked and later laundered to reach the desired beneficiaries, including himself,” it had said.
The agency had said that Puri was non-cooperative and evasive and if granted the relief, he may tamper with the investigation since he was an influential person. Puri, Chairman of Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt Ltd, had on July 27 approached the court seeking anticipatory bail in the case, saying he feared arrest in the case. The court had on Saturday granted the interim protection till Monday, which was extended to Tuesday. Puri recently appeared before ED for questioning in the case pertaining to the now scrapped Rs 3,600 crore chopper deal with AgustaWestland.