Friday, March 29, 2013

Emaar-MGF link surfaces in VVIP chopper scam

Chopper scam- “Indians will take years to link it”

Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation has decided to send a team to Italy to gather details on the chopper scam, evidence regarding links with the Emmar-MGF are slowly coming to light.

The demand to probe the Congress link into this scam are getting louder and according to BJP’s national secretary Kirit Somaya the government of India had signed an agreement with Private corporate Emmar-MGF to develop the CWG Village. Under original agreement the Government was to get Rs.321 and 389 flats from Emmar-MGF.

The name of Emmar MGF comes into the case due to the association it had with Guido Ralph Haschk one of the middle men in the deal who was also the director of the company between Septembe 2009 to December 2009. Somaya has demanded that association needs to be probed for various reasons. To begin with Emmar MGF is owned by the late V P Gupta. His grandson Kanishka Singh is a close associate of Rahul Gandhi and also his advisor.

In the name of Commonwealth Games, the Congress Govt. agreed to purchase flats from this private company at the rate of Rs.11,000/- per sq.ft., resulting into scam of more than Rs.2500 crores of rupees.

The Controller & Auditor General of India in its report No.CA 23 of 2009-10 has passed strictures against this manipulation. Like Emaar MGF was gifted contracts and land worth more than 2500 crores in CWG games, which is still under probe, similarly in this case also the deal has been struck with huge kickback to Hashcke.

Indian investigators would also look into the taped conversations that Haschke had with an Indian. The Italian investiagators have alleged that Haschke used to take orders from an Indian and it also revealed that he had an earlier agreement with AgustaWestland for 5 per cent commission. The Italians have also detailed how the commissions were worked out in the chopper deal and how the money would be laundered in India.

The Italian investigation report suggests that a total of 51 million euros of the commission a large sum was diverted to Christian Michel, a British consultant who is also an accused today in the scam. The name of Michel also crops up in another conversation that Haschke has with Bruno Spagnolini , CEO of AgustaWestland. In this conversation he expresses surprise that the probe agency found out about the commission amount. Further the conversations also have a reference to a contract with an Indian Counterpart for the deal.

Haschke says, “ in any case, we have already decided, together with AgustaWestland lawyer, which is our position, which is: Yes, initially I went there (to India) to make proposals about this VVIP deal, but I was told that in India you can have no aid/assistance, therefore the original 5 per cent contract was not effective because it was not signed by the….

Another piece of evidence in this case would be the discussion on how a total of 52 million Euros would be divided between Haschke and Christian Michel. The probe suggests that there was an agreement that was drawn out by the two of them to settle a dispute which was threatening to end their contract with Finmeccanica.

A letter to this effect which was seized would suggest that Michel had agreed on taking a 12 million euro cut to accommodate a demand made by Haschke.

According to the investigations in Italy the agreement was drawn up in the year 2011 May after a dispute had threatened to end their contract with the chopper company which had refused to pay more. Haschke says that Finmeccanica threatened to stop the payments that were coming through the bogus engineering contracts.

Harschke says that he met with Michel in Dubai and they discussed that they need to make an adjustment with the commission. In this regard the two of them reached an agreement which was signed in Dubai.

The taped conversations which are with the Italian investigators also has portions in which Haschke has bragged about how they would not get caught by the Indians. They are fools and will take years to track this link. He had said that they had been paid by cash and hence there is no trail. Moreover they will not be able to identify Sanjeev Kumar Tyagi as the person behind the matter, he had also said. The Italian investigators have also found that the Indians had tweaked the technical requirements which helped AgustaWestland enter into the race and offer supply of 12 VVIP choppers to India.
Vicky Nanjappa
February 16, 2013 01:09 IST

Thursday, March 28, 2013

हेलिकॉप्टर खरीद पर फैसला टला

रक्षा मंत्रालय की रक्षा खरीद परिषद (डीएसी) की सोमवार को हुई बैठक में थलसेना और वायुसेना के लिए करीब एक अरब डॉलर की लागत से 197 लाइट हेलिकॉप्टरों की खरीद पर फैसला टाल दिया गया। रक्षा मंत्री ए के एंटनी की अध्यक्षता में हुई इस बैठक में रक्षा मंत्रालय और तीनों सेनाओं के आला अधिकारियों ने भाग लिया, जिसमें तीनों सेनाओं के लिए छह हजार करोड़ रुपये की लागत वाले दूसरे रक्षा उपकरणों की खरीद को मंजूरी दी गई।

उल्लेखनीय है कि यह बैठक 197 हेलिकॉप्टरों की खरीद पर अंतिम मुहर लगाने के इरादे से ही बुलाई गई थी, लेकिन इटली की अगस्ता वेस्टलैंड कंपनी से हेलिकॉप्टरों की खरीद में थलसेना के एक ब्रिगेडियर द्वारा 25 करोड़ रुपये की रिश्वत मांगने के आरोपों के बाद रक्षा मंत्रालय ने खरीद के बारे में फैसला टाला है।

मंत्रालय ने इस बारे में इटली की सरकार से पूरी जानकारी मांगी है। बैठक में रक्षा मंत्री ने तीनों सेना प्रमुखों से कहा कि हथियारों की खरीद के दौरान तकनीकी परीक्षण में पूरी पारदर्शिता बरतें।

उल्लेखनीय है कि 197 हेलीकाप्टरों की खरीद में रूसी और यूरोपीय हेलिकॉप्टर होड़ ले रहे हैं। अगस्ता हेलिकॉप्टर को पहले ही तकनीकी आधार पर होड़ से बाहर कर दिया गया था, लेकिन यह सौदा जीतने के लिए भारी लॉबिइंग चल रही थी।

रक्षा मंत्रालय के अधिकारियों के मुताबिक थलसेना के लिए 15 सौ करोड़ रुपये की लागत से लाइट सपोर्ट वीक, नौसेना के मरीन कमांडो के लिए 17 सौ करोड़ रुपये की लागत से स्पेशल ऑपरेशंस वेसल और वायुसेना के हेलिकॉप्टरों के लिए एक हजार करोड़ रुपये की लागत से राहत व बचाव (एसएआर) उपकरण खरीदने को मंजूरी दी गई।

थलसेना के लिए आठ सौ करोड़ रुपये की लागत से हैंड हेल्ड थर्मल इमेजर और नौसेना के लिए 450 करोड़ रुपये की लागत से कैडेट ट्रेनिंग शिप भी खरीदे जाएंगे। इसके अलावा वायुसेना के लिए हिंदुस्तान एयरोनॉटिक्स से डार्नियर टोही और परिवहन विमान खरीदने को भी मंजूरी दी गई।\
नवभारत टाइम्स | Oct 29, 2012, 10.52PM IST विशेष प्रतिनिधि ।। नई दिल्ली

वीवीआईपी हेलिकॉप्टर डील में रिश्वत, इटली की कंपनी का अधिकारी अरेस्ट

राष्ट्रपति, प्रधानमंत्री जैसे देश के अति विशिष्ट लोगों के लिए करीब 3600 करोड़ रुपये में 12 हेलिकॉप्टरों के सौदे में बड़े घोटाले का खुलासा हुआ है। यह डील हासिल करने के लिए भारत में 362 करोड़ रुपये की रिश्वत देने के आरोप में इटली की सरकारी कंपनी फिनमेकनिका के प्रमुख जूसेपी ओरसी को इटैलियन पुलिस ने मंगलवार को मिलान शहर से गिरफ्तार किया। फिनमेकनिका की सहायक कंपनी अगस्ता वेस्टलैंड के प्रमुख ब्रूनो स्पैगनेलेनी को भी इटली की कोर्ट ने नजरबंद करने के आदेश दिए हैं। इसके बाद यहां डिफेंस मिनिस्ट्री ने इस मामले की सीबीआई जांच का आदेश जारी करते हुए बाकी 9 हेलिकॉप्टरों की डील स्थगित कर दी।

वैसे तो इस डील में कथित रिश्वतखोरी की खबरें पिछले साल इटली की मीडिया में आई थीं। एक भारतीय और एक ब्रिगेडियर का नाम भी सामने आया था। हमारे सहयोगी चैनल टाइम्स नाउ ने भी इसे प्रमुखता से उठाया था। लेकिन, भारत सरकार इटली सरकार से पूरी जानकारी न मिलने की बात कहकर इसे नजरअंदाज करती रही। अब इटली पुलिस की कार्रवाई के बाद यहां रक्षा मंत्रालय के प्रवक्ता ने कहा कि हमने इटली और यूके की सरकारों से जानकारी मांगी थी, लेकिन आरोप साबित करने लायक खास डिटेल न मिलने पर सीबीआई जांच का निर्देश दिया गया है।

3600 करोड़ की डील
इन वीवीआईपी हेलिकॉप्टरों के लिए भारत ने फिनमेकनिका कंपनी के साथ फरवरी 2010 में डील साइन की थी। इसके तहत करीब 3600 करोड़ रुपये में 12 एडब्ल्यू-101 हेलिकॉप्टर खरीदे जा रहे हैं। तीन की डिलीवरी हो चुकी है, जिन्हें वायुसेना के संचार स्क्वॉड्रन को सौंप दिया गया है, जो राष्ट्रपति, प्रधानमंत्री और अन्य बड़ी हस्तियों को हेलिकॉप्टर के जरिए लाने-ले जाने की जिम्मेदारी संभालती है। बाकी हेलिकॉप्टर अगले साल के मध्य तक मिलने थे।

सरकार की चुप्पी पर सवाल
इटली की पुलिस ने इस डील में रिश्वतखोरी की पिछले साल अप्रैल में जांच शुरू कर दी थी। उसके बाद वहां मीडिया में इस सौदे में दलाली की खबरें आई थीं। लेकिन, उस समय रक्षा मंत्री ए.के. एंटनी समेत अन्य अधिकारियों ने यह कहकर टालने की कोशिश की थी कि इटली सरकार से जानकारी मांगी गई है।

प्रभावशाली हस्ती का दबाव?
इस दलाली के कई तार उस वक्त भारत में जुड़े नजर आए थे, लेकिन रक्षा मंत्रालय ने फिनमेकनिका कंपनी के भारतीय संपर्कों से जानकारी लेने की जरूरत नहीं समझी। आरोप है कि इस सौदे में भारत की एक प्रभावशाली हस्ती के जुड़े होने की आशंका के कारण सरकार ने देश में जांच शुरू नहीं करवाई। सरकार का कहना था कि इटली सरकार से डिटेल मिलने पर कार्रवाई की जाएगी।

ब्रिगेडियर से पूछताछ नहीं
इटली की अदालत में इस केस की सुनवाई के दौरान एक भारतीय संजीव कुमार त्यागी के कथित तौर पर जुड़े होने का आरोप लगा था। थलसेना के एक ब्रिगेडियर का नाम भी सामने आया था। लेकिन, रक्षा सूत्र बताते हैं कि इनके नाम इटली की मीडिया में आने के बावजूद भारत सरकार ने अब तक इन लोगों से पूछताछ की जरूरत नहीं समझी।

प्रणव ने कर दिए थे रिजेक्ट
इन हेलिकॉप्टरों को खरीदने के लिए इनमें मौजूद वीवीआईपी सुविधाओं और बेहतर सिक्युरिटी फीचर्स का हवाला दिया गया था, लेकिन तब प्रणव मुखर्जी की अगुवाई वाले वित्त मंत्रालय ने इसे महंगा सौदा बताकर नामंजूर कर दिया था। बाद में, रक्षा मंत्रालय, एसपीजी और अन्य विभागों में हेलिकॉप्टरों की सख्त जरूरत की बात कहकर डील की गई।

तकनीकी जरूरतें बदली गईं
सूत्रों के मुताबिक, फिनमेकनिका के एक एजेंट ने इटली की कोर्ट में आरोप लगाए थे कि कंपनी से डील करने के लिए भारतीय वायुसेना ने हेलिकॉप्टर की तकनीकी जरूरतें तक बदल दी थीं। एजेंट का कहना था कि ऐसा इसलिए किया गया क्योंकि अगस्ता वेस्टलैंड के हेलिकॉप्टर टेंडर की शर्तों के अनुरूप नहीं थे।

इटली में भारतीय राजदूत ने इटली के अधिकारियों से इस सिलसिले में जानकारी मांगी थी लेकिन उनका कहना था कि इस पर इटली की कोर्ट में सुनवाई चल रही है, इसलिए वे इसकी डिटेल कोर्ट के बाहर नहीं दे सकते।
नवभारतटाइम्स.कॉम | Feb 12, 2013, 09.50PM IST, रंजीत कुमार ।।

हेलिकॉप्टर घोटाले में इटली से मांगी गई जानकारी

विप्र ॥ नई दिल्ली : राष्ट्रपति और प्रधानमंत्री के इस्तेमाल के लिए 12 वीवीआईपी हेलिकॉप्टरों की खरीद में घोटाले की रिपोर्ट मीडिया में आने के बाद रक्षा मंत्रालय ने इटली सरकार से जानकारी मांगी है।

रक्षा मंत्रालय के प्रवक्ता ने बताया कि मंत्रालय ने एक बार फिर विदेश मंत्रालय के जरिये इटली की सरकार से जल्द जवाब भेजने का आग्रह किया है। वायुसेना के संचार स्क्वॉड्रन के लिए इटली की अगस्ता वेस्टलैंड कंपनी से पिछले साल 12 वीवीआईपी हेलिकॉप्टर करीब एक अरब डॉलर में खरीदे गए थे।

कंपनी ने गड़बड़ी के आरोपों से इनकार किया है। इस घोटाले की रिपोर्ट की जांच इटली की सरकार कर रही है। इटली की सरकार से आग्रह किया गया है कि अगर उसे किसी बिचौलिये या एजेंट के नाम और अन्य विवरण पता हैं तो उसके बारे में दस्तावेज के साथ जानकारी दे। प्

रवक्ता के मुताबिक, थलसेना के लिए 197 लाइट हेलिकॉप्टरों की खरीद प्रक्रिया में एक ब्रिगेडियर के धांधली करने के बारे में भी इटली से जानकारी मांगी गई। उसने कहा कि दोषियों के खिलाफ रक्षा मंत्रालय कड़ी कार्रवाई करेगा।
नवभारत टाइम्स | Oct 26, 2012, 10.00PM IST

Coal scam: Little progress in high-profile cases, says CBI

Agency Fails To File Charges In Cases With Political Links
New Delhi: The CBI has failed to file chargesheets in prominent Coalgate cases, including those with high-profile political connections, despite serious allegations of criminality, the agency has admitted.

In a status report shared with Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on nine beneficiaries of coal blocks allotted between 2006 and 2009, the CBI says the cases are “under investigation” with coal ministry officials under the scanner along with owners and promoters.

The stalled probe prompted PAC members to question CBI director Ranjit Sinha about reasons for the delay as was reported by TOIon Thursday. Sinha pointed to lack of access to hundreds of documents as a prime impediment.

The CBI has informed about cases, like one of corruption, registered against Jas Infrastructure headed by mining baron Manoj Jayaswal, a Nagpurbased businessman with political connections. Others being investigated in the case include, Jayaswal’s relatives and yet to be named government officials.

It has been alleged that the company incorrectly claimed a proposed capacity of 1200mw without which it would not have met pre-qualification standards for coal block allocation.

Manoj Jayaswal and his relatives were allegedly linked to coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal — the minister has denied any business dealings — and are also under investigation in a case relating to AMR Iron and Steel.

The firm allegedly claimed a net worth of Rs 1,821 crore before the screening committee that assessed applications on December 7, 2007 although the application form stated a worth of Rs 1.96 crore.

Jayaswal is also linked to the Yavatmal Energy Limited case in which Congress MP Vijay Darda is under investigation. In the case of Navbharat Power, based in Hyderabad, the allegation is that it had no legal basis by way of documentation to claim the net worth of a partner and in this case officials of the coal ministry face the prospect of prosecution. The company was sold to the Essar Group.

Vini Iron and Steel is also under investigation with its directors being probed by the CBI. The company was reported to have been sold to a person close to former Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda.

The case of Grace Industries is striking as its case was not supported by Maharashtra, the state where the coal block is located, or the central ministry of steel. Its directors Mukesh Gupta and Seema Gupta are under investigation.

Kolkata-based Vikash Metal allegedly misrepresented land ownership. Delhi-based Green infrastructure concealed facts and MP-based Kamal Sponge has been accused of doing the same.

Coal ministry not cooperating: BJP
New Delhi: The Opposition BJP on Thursday demanded that the coal ministry immediately pass on the relevant files for Coalgate probe to CBI. “Are the files safe with coal ministry or are they still there?” asked party spokesperson Niramala Sitharaman while also raising the issue that the PM himself is linked to the investigations.

“The probe into the coal block allocations is not even going on at a snail's pace. It is worrying that despite the Opposition raising this issue strongly inside and outside Parliament hardly any progress has been made. The CBI has said it is not receiving any files,” Sitharaman said. She cited that CBI is not only investigating the allocations of the 142 coal blocks from 2006 to 2012 by the UPA government, but also another 50 blocks, which were allotted between 1993 and 2004.

The CBI had informed the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that it is not receiving files regarding the block allocations from the coal ministry. “The coal ministry has happily sent all the files related to the allocations done from 1993 to 2004. The CBI says the other remaining files have not been sent to it,” Sitharaman said. TNN

ADARSH CHS SCAM: Ex-CM moves HC to quash FIR in Adarsh case

Mumbai: Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan has moved the Bombay high court urging it to quash the FIR against him by the CBI in the Adarsh scam case. Hearing Chavan’s petition, a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ashokh Bhangale asked his lawyers whether the petition would survive since the CBI had already filed a chargesheet in the case.

Chavan and 12 others were charged in the Adarsh case by the CBI. In his petition, Chavan has questioned the jurisdiction of the CBI to probe the case since no consent had been taken from the state government. Alleging that the case was a political conspiracy to target him, the petition has urged the court to restrain the CBI from initiating any action against him.

Chavan was accused of allegedly taking decisions that benefitted Adarsh during his term as revenue minister and then as CM. The allegation against him is that after meeting promoters of Adarsh, a decision was taken to include civilian members in society initially meant for defence personnel. This decision helped his relatives get flats in Adarsh. As CM in July 2009, he allegedly gave society the concession of 15% recreation ground, not allowed earlier by the state. The HC has posted the next hearing for March 15.
Shibu Thomas TNN

Agusta Westland Chopper SCAM: CBI seeks more docus from MoD

Wants Internal Inquiry Files, Says Initial Report Not Enough To Start Probe
New Delhi: The CBI on Thursday asked the defence ministry to furnish all documents, including those of its internal investigation, for registering a formal inquiry into the alleged kickbacks in the acquisition of 12 AW-101 helicopters from Italian firm AgustaWestland.

ACBI team met a joint secretary-level officer in the defence ministry, who is also acquisition manager (air), and sought all records required to proceed with the probe into the Rs 3,600 crore deal, agency sources said.

During the meeting, the CBI team asked the ministry to provide files related to any internal inquiry undertaken by it in connection with alleged payment of bribes, sources said. The agency also asked ministry officials to provide conclusions arrived at in the probe.

Sources said the agency got the 64-page report filed by Italian prosecutors through informal channels but it could not proceed with the probe on this basis. They said they had gone through the complaint given by the defence ministry and initial reports, but that was not sufficient to file a preliminary probe.

According to sources, defence ministry has deputed an IAF officer as nodal officer to help the CBI. They said the ministry provided some documents and also assured the agency that they would provide all details as soon as possible so that a probe can be initiated.

On Monday, Italian agencies arrested the then CEO of Finmeccanica’s subsidiary AgustaWestland, Giuseppe Orsi, for allegedly bribing Indian middlemen to clinch the deal.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate is monitoring the developments and might also register a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act once the CBI files an FIR.

‘BJP can’t compare VVIP chopper deal with Bofors case’
New Delhi:A day after the government ordered a CBI inquiry into the VVIP chopper deal, Union information & broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said the Opposition BJP was being “irresponsible” and “dangerous” by comparing the deal with the Bofors scam.

“And I think it is extremely dangerous and irresponsible to be drawing parallels through some other investigation. Let us also not forget that in February 2004, the Delhi HC quashed the charges in the Bofors case. There was an NDA government was at the helm. The NDA government did not even exercise the remit of filing a special leave petition in the SC,” Tewari said.

“This particular procurement process was initiated during the NDA government and culminated during the UPA government. Therefore it has to be borne across two administrations,” he said. TNN

Agusta Westland Chopper SCAM: Verma firms acted as brokers for Agusta?

New Delhi: Controversial arms dealer Abhishek Verma is back in the headlines. On a day when a Delhi court denied Verma and his wife interim bail in a case involving alleged violations of the Official Secrets Act, television channel Times Now cited documents to suggest that his firms had acted as deal-brokers for AgustaWestland, though not in the VVIP helicopter deal.

Times Now said that Swiss lobbying firm NJT Sarl had sent an email to the office of the CEO of AgustaWestland and its parent Italian firm Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, in June 2009 offering its services in helping the Italian arms manufacturer secure business in India.

The mail, dated June 19, 2009, sent by one Christian Curato said NJT Sarl was acting on behalf of Atlas Defence Systems, a Mauritius-based firm that was part of Verma’s Atlas group. It boasted of how its “allies” had closed defence deals worth $5.5 billion in the previous four years. Promising to “provide political exposure in India at the highest level” and asserting that it had strong allies in government, media and “corridors of power”, NJT sought a meeting with Orsi.

A series of emails exchanged between Orsi’s office and NJT culminated in the legal head of AgustaWestland, Alaimo Vincenzo, suggesting to the Swiss lobbying firm that a formal commission contract be draw up and signed. The contract, the report said, was finally signed in August 2009, not with the Swiss firm but with another alleged Verma front company, Ganton, based in New York. The president of Ganton, US, C Edmonds Allen, signed the contract.

The contract specified that Ganton would be paid an 8% commission on the sale of helicopters to the Delhi police and 15% on the price of all spare parts that would be provided under the contract. As it happened, the helicopter deal with the Delhi police finally did not go through.

The Times Now report also cited a letter allegedly written by lawyer Gautam Khaitan on behalf of his law firm O P Khaitan & Co to Atlas Interactive (AIL) in Mauritius, another Vermaowned firm. It said that Khaitan in this letter told AIL that his company was holding accounts of $145,000 each on behalf of AIL and that he would “dispose” of these funds as per instructions once he returned to Delhi.

This, the Times Now report said, not only proved that Khaitan was very much linked to arms dealers but also raised questions about what the $290,000 was meant for and how it was “disposed” of.

Agusta Westland Chopper SCAM: Berlo: Bribes part of doing business

London: Defending Finmeccanica’s jailed ex-chief executive officer Giuseppe Orsi, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday said bribes were a necessary part of doing business globally.

“Bribes are a phenomenon that exist and it’s useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations,” he said in a TV interview. “These are not crimes. We’re talking about paying a commission to someone in that country. Why, because those are the rules in that country.”

He said probes by Italian prosecutors into contracts Italian firms sign abroad were a form of “economic suicide”.

“Everyone knows that as well as the tenders, agreements between governments are also involved,” Berlusconi said. Terming Orsi’s arrest “pure masochism”, he said it would hurt the prospects of other Italian businesses. “No one will negotiate with Eni or Enel or Finmeccanica anymore...” he said. “These are absurd moralisms,” he said. “If you want to make moralisms like that, you can’t be an entrepreneur on a global scale,” he said. AGENCIES

Agusta Westland Chopper SCAM: Specs changed at behest of Brajesh, says Jaswant

New Delhi: Even as the BJP kept up its attack on the government over alleged kickbacks in the VVIP chopper deal, senior party leader Jaswant Singh on Thursday agreed with former IAF chief S P Tyagi that the change in specifications of the helicopters was done at the behest of then national security adviser Brajesh Mishra. Singh, however, defended the decision, saying it was done to avoid a single-vendor situation.

Singh also said the guilty in the matter was an Italian company and people had “forgotten them”.

“We should not make wild allegations against a former IAF chief. It is not in the interest of both the Air Force and the country. The probe is on. As Mr Tyagi himself is saying, the probe should be held early. Why don’t you agree to his suggestion?” Singh told reporters.

Supporting Tyagi, who has been accused of taking bribes in the deal through his cousins, Singh said one should be careful while alleging “guilt through association”. “Don’t start judging people simply because of association or simply because former air chief marshal Tyagi has cousins who are also known as Tyagis,” he said.

The former defence and external affairs minister added, “One of my own cousins, first cousin, he was known as a smuggler. Does that make me a smuggler? If another relative of mine commits a crime, does that make me a criminal?” On its part, BJP demanded that the CBI probe into the Rs 3,600 crore deal should be monitored by a competent authority so that the investigation was not “delayed” as was done in the 2G case.

“Ordering a mere CBI inquiry is not enough. It must be monitored. In the 2G spectrum case, CBI probe was ordered in 2009 but the agency did nothing for 15 months. It was only when the Supreme Court started monitoring the case suo motu that things started moving,” party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

He maintained that three questions were of utmost relevance in the probe — when the order was placed, when the alleged kickbacks were paid and who recipients were.

Agusta Westland Chopper SCAM: Pranab, Tyagi at helm when chopper specs tweaked: MoD

New Delhi: Pranab Mukherjee was the defence minister and Air Chief Marshal (retd) Shashi P Tyagi was the Indian Air Force chief when “changes” were incorporated in the technical parameters for acquisition of a dozen VVIP helicopters that are at the centre of the bribery scandal.

This comes out clearly in a statement issued by the defence ministry on Thursday, which charts out the sequence of events over the past 14 years that finally led to the inking of the Rs 3,546-crore contract for the plush AW-101 helicopters from AgustaWestland in February 2010. Def min tries to firewall

‘Mr Clean’ from scam Norms changed & deal approved under Pranab’s watch, says MoD
New Delhi: The six-page factsheet rebuts ACM (retd) Tyagi’s argument that he had nothing to do with the changes in specifications, while insulating defence minister A K Antony completely from the controversial parts in the long procurement saga roiling the political class.

The MoD statement confirms the tweaking of the technical specifications, which led to a wider competition but also gave the AW-101 helicopters the opportunity to re-enter the race, were directed by the Vajpayee PMO and the then national security advisor (NSA) Brajesh Mishra in November-December 2003, as was reported in TOI’s Thursday edition.

Interestingly, it goes on to add that the “changes were incorporated” after the “operational requirements were deliberated at length among the IAF, NSA, SPG/PMO and ministry of defence from March 2005 to September 2006”.

The UPA-I regime was in office at the time, with Mukherjee as the defence minister. Antony, the “Mr Clean” of the government, took over the reins of the ministry only on October 25, 2006, a month after the all-important incorporation of the changes. Mukherjee was the finance minister when the deal got the nod from the finance ministry before being cleared by the cabinet committee on security (CCS) and was inked in February 2010.

In the eye of a storm after Italian investigators alleged he was bribed to swing the VVIP chopper contract for AgustaWestland through his three cousins and met the middle-men involved 6-7 times, ACM (retd) Tyagi has claimed the technical specifications were “frozen” before he became the IAF chief on December 31, 2004. However, as per the MoD paper, Tyagi was the chief when the changes were firmed after deliberations among the different stakeholders. He retired on March 31, 2007.

As for the earlier PMO directive, the MoD paper holds that the meeting convened by Mishra on November 19, 2003, decided to lower the operational flying ceiling of 6,000 metres, on the ground that it had led to a “single-vendor situation” since only Eurocopter’s EC-225 helicopter met this requirement, to 4,500 metres.

“It was noted the President and PM have rarely made visits to places involving flying at an altitude beyond 4,500 metres. In the meeting, it was decided to change the mandatory requirement for operational altitude to 4,500 metres. The higher flying ceiling of 6,000-metre and a cabin height of 1.8-metre could be made desirable operational requirements,” it said.

“It was observed that with these revisions, several helicopters, which otherwise met all requirements but had been rejected due to the altitude restriction, would now come into reckoning,” it added.

The second tender or RFP (request for proposal) was subsequently issued in September 2006. The field evaluation trials in 2008 eliminated AW-101 helicopter’s only remaining competitor American Sikorsky’s S-92 Superhawks because it failed to meet four operational requirements, including the 4.5-km service ceiling, as earlier reported by TOI.

Finmeccanica appoints new CEO
    Scandal-hit Finmeccanica, Italy’s biggest defence contractor, has appointed Alessandro Pansa as the new CEO to succeed Giuseppe Orsi, who was arrested this week on charges of tax fraud and corruption, including alleged payoffs in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal with India.

“The board of directors of Finmeccanica... confirms that the company is fully operational, and has resolved to confer to Mr Alessandro Pansa insuring comprehensive management of the company and the group,” the company said in a statement. AGENCIES
Rajat Pandit TNN

Agusta Westland Chopper SCAM: VVIP chopper deal likely to be scrapped

New Delhi: Having frozen all further payments to AgustaWestland, the Manmohan Singh government is fast veering towards cancelling the VVIP helicopter deal, with the beleaguered defence ministry reiterating on Thursday that it would take “all possible legal and administrative action against the guilty parties”.

The defence ministry signalled its intent by writing to the CEO of AgustaWestland to “categorically” state if the company had paid bribes to swing the deal. “AgustaWestland has been asked to specifically indicate if any financial transaction has taken place with any Indian individual or violation of the integrity pact or other terms and conditions of the contract,” the letter said. Tough response likely ahead of Budget session

Although no finger has been pointed at Antony, he is being blamed for not movingly swiftly enough when the first whiffs of bribery surfaced over 11 months ago. The minister has been criticized for bringing in the CBI only this week after the top executives of AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica were arrested in Italy.

A strong indication of Antony’s resolve to repair the perception came in the form of a sixpage factsheet, issued by the MoD on Thursday, which shielded him from the controversial decision to tweak the technical specifications for the helicopters.

Government sources said outright cancellation of the contract was no longer a far-fetched possibility. “If the contracts for the Bofors howitzers and the HDW submarines in the mid-1980s could be terminated mid-way, even if they hit the operational readiness and modernization of the armed forces in a major way, these are just choppers meant for VVIP travel,’’ said a source.

Significantly, Antony had on Wednesday stated he would not shy away from taking extreme action if the CBI probe corroborated the charges against AgustaWestland in the Italian court.

The looming Budget session of Parliament, and the indication that the opposition is all set to feast on the latest scandal to hit the UPA, is proving to be a big push for a tough response. The session is set to start on February 21, and there are indications that the MoD might not even wait for the CBI to submit a formal report.

Defence secretary Shashikant Sharma, as reported by TOI earlier, has also asked the Indian ambassador in Italy to formally procure the Italian court documents detailing the alleged payment of 51 million euros to swing the contract for AgustaWestland.

These documents obtained officially could serve as a tool for action in case the government feels it cannot afford to wait for the CBI to give its findings. “We want to finish the ongoing review of the contract and take a decision before the next delivery of helicopters...Proper documentation will ensure there is no financial loss to India in the case of arbitration or other proceedings at a later stage,’’ said a senior official.

Despite having inducted only three of the AW-101 helicopters till now, with the remaining nine slated for delivery in batches of three each in March, May and July, the defence ministry has already put on hold all further payments to AgustaWestland. India has paid a little over 50% of the total amount to this UK-based subsidiary of Italian military giant Finmeccanica till now, while another tranche was to be paid later this month.

Both the contract and integrity pact inked with AgustaWestland contain specific provisions by which “strict action including the cancellation of contract, recovery of payment, blacklisting and penal action” can be unleashed against the vendor.

Article 22 of the inked contract, for instance, deals with the penalty for the “use of undue influence”. It entitles the buyer to cancel the contract with the seller and recover from him the amount of any loss arising from such cancellation.

Article 23, in turn, deals with agents and agency commission, requiring the seller to confirm and declare that the company has not engaged any individual or firm – Indian or foreign – to intercede or facilitate in any way with the Indian government or its officials.

Any breach of the integrity pact, in turn, entitles the buyer to take actions against the seller, ranging from forfeiture of the earnest money and performance bond to contract cancellation and recovery of the sum already paid with interest.
Rajat Pandit & Josy Joseph TNN

Agusta Westland Chopper SCAM: Front co IDS India that routed 140cr bribes doesn’t exist

New Delhi: The company at the centre of the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter scandal, IDS India, does not appear to exist in any official database. As reported by TOIon February 14, this is the ‘company’ which received up to Rs 140 crore in kickbacks in the 2010 VVIP helicopter deal with AgustaWestland via the tax haven of Tunisia over a period of around five years.

A search through the records of the ministry of corporate affairs threw up several companies with similar names, but nothing by the name of IDS India.

The IDS connection runs through the entire trail of kickbacks although little is known about the people behind it. Questions are being raised about the relations between IDS Mauritius and two Chandigarh-based companies, IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, whose holding company is IDS Mauritius. Aeromatrix was promoted by three men, Guido Haschke, Carlo Gerosa and Gautam Khaitan, who are suspects in the Italian investigations into bribery in the Indian deal. Aeromatrix link to IDS Infotech curious

Investigations in Milan into graft by Finmeccanica, the Italian consortium that also owns AgustaWestland, has shown that 51 million euro was paid in kickbacks for 12 VVIP helicopter-deal.

It says between 2007 and 2012 several million euros was paid by AgustaWestland to IDS Tunisia. Money was remitted through Tunisia to IDS India against fake bills raised for development of software. Aeromatrix, registered in Delhi but operating out of Chandigarh, has figured in the taped conversations of suspects in Italy. Until last year its directors were Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan, Swiss residents Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

The last two are partners and are suspected to be key middlemen in the Indian deal, while Khaitan figures in Italian court documents as one of those who assisted them. Aeromatrix’s link to IDS Infotech, based in Chandigarh is curious. Aeromatrix was incorporated on June 26, 2009 after it supposedly took over some software work of AgustaWestland Italy that was being done by IDS Infotech. This work continues to remain the mainstay of Aeromatrix, with a modest turnover of around Rs 8.5 crore.

“The project from AgustaWestland Italy was transferred from IDS Infotech to Aeromatrix under a business transfer agreement, which is standard practice in the industry,” Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi told TOI. But he claimed ignorance about the details of the agreement. This is despite the fact that Bakshi himself was a senior executive of IDS Infotech and moved to Aeromatrix as CEO along with all the employees working on the contract.
Josy Joseph

Agusta Westland Chopper SCAM: Ex-IAF chief briefed us on tender: Middlemen

Claim They Met Tyagi In Office, Influenced Him To Change Terms
New Delhi: The alleged middlemen in the deal for VVIP helicopters have claimed that the then Air Chief Marshal Shashi P Tyagi used to brief them on the developments in the tender, according to Italian investigators.

Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa have reportedly claimed the then IAF chief would keep them updated on the tender for the 12 helicopters during their meetings, which are believed to have taken place six to seven times — some of them in his office. Tyagi has maintained that he met only one of the middlemen once at the residence of his cousin.

They have also claimed that they managed to modify conditions of the tender, which made Agusta’s AW-101 eligible for the bid, according to a report filed by investigators in an Italian court. “Hashcke and Gerosa, through the Tyagi brothers, in turn through their cousin ACM S P Tyagi, managed to change the tender details, in a way to favour, modifying the ‘operational ceiling’ from 18,000 to 15,000 feet of altitude, thus allowing AgustaWestland take part in the tender,” the report said.

“They managed to introduce a comparative flight trial with non-functional engine, facilitating AgustaWestland helicopters, the only ones which had three engines. This way, they managed to get the contract to AgustaWestland,” the report said. PTI

Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it’s useless to deny... these necessary situations. These are not crimes. We’re talking about paying a commission to someone in that country... Why, because those are the rules in that country. The risk of magistrates intervening I consider to be a form of economic suicide

IDS India, named in Italian court filings as company through which chopper deal kickbacks were routed to India, does not show up in ministry of corporate affairs records
Suspicious links between 2 Chandigarh firms, IDS Infotech & Aeromatrix, and IDS Mauritius
Promoters of Aeromatrix—Gautam Khaitan, Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa—under scanner for role in kickbacks Paying

Kickbacks was Finmeccanica ex-CEO’s business philosophy?
New Delhi: Paying kickbacks was allegedly the “business philosophy” of former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi who has been arrested for his role in the VVIP choppers scam for giving bribes to secure the Rs 3,600 crore deal.

Giuseppe, who has now been removed from his position after his arrest, had also asked his press secretary to reportedly pay money to engage 20 journalists for 30-40 months for improving the image of the company during the ongoing investigations, the report filed by Italian investigators said.

Giuseppe reportedly considered paying kickbacks as “business philosophy” and believed that he could have the prosecutor removed by attempting to bribe newspapers with “a million euro” for a print campaign compliant with Finmeccanica for improving the firm’s image, the report suggested.

The report alleged that Orsi and Spagnolini first paid Haschke and Gerosa Rs 2.8 crore through a consultancy contract between AW spa and Gordian Services, which in turn paid Rs 72 lakh of the amount to the three Tyagi brothers. PTI

150 crore paid as bribe’
Tyagi has denied any wrongdoing although he has admitted having met one of the alleged middlemen at the residence of his cousin. According to the investigators, 21 million euros (about Rs 150 crore) were paid as kickbacks under the cover of engineering contracts reportedly through companies IDS Tunisia and IDS India.

“There were other meetings at (IAF chief) Tyagi’s offices during the time when he was still in office. In these meetings there was me, Gerosa but no one from AW (AgustaWestland) or Finmeccanica. During these meetings, Marshal Tyagi used to tell us about developments in the tender,” ADR, one of the alleged middlemen, claimed.

The report suggests that the middlemen had close contacts with the family of Tyagi, particularly his three cousins. According to the report, the invoices issued by IDS India and Tunisia indicated in detail the giving of funds intended to reward the consultants and to remunerate India's corrupt public officials.

The arrested CEOs of the two companies had also “paid Guido Ralph Hashcke and Carlo Gerosa (two other alleged middlemen), through a consultancy contract between AW spa and Gordian Services Sarl an amount of 400,000 Euros (about Rs 2.8 crore), of which 100,000 Euros (Rs 72 lakh) were paid cash to the Tyagi brothers (Julie, Docsa and Sandeep.”

Tyagi has refuted allegations that he was paid bribes to swing a Rs 3,600-crore deal for procuring 12 choppers from Italian firm Finmeccanica to ferry VVIPS.

“I have been hit by a thunderstorm. I am innocent. These allegations are totally baseless and I am denying them categorically. The deal was signed in 2010 whereas I retired in 2007 itself,” he had said. After the arrest of Orsi and AgustaWestland and Spagnolini in Italy, India has put on hold the delivery of three AW-101 choppers to be delivered in March along with the remaining six. The payments for the choppers has also been stopped and defence ministry has stated that because of the integrity pact, it can get back all the money paid by it for the deal.

Defence Ministry A K Antony had already ordered a CBI probe in the matter, saying the guilty will be punished and the deal may be canceled if any wrongdoing is found. PTI


NEW DELHI: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said on Tuesday that it would sell assets of two Sahara group companies if the conglomerate’s chief Subrata Roy and three other top executives fail to appear personally before it on April 10 after furnishing details of their assets and bank accounts.

SEBI, the stock market watchdog, will seek the sale of properties across the country ranging from the posh Aamby Valley near Pune to land in Mumbai, Delhi and Gurgaon if Roy and three directors — Vandana Bhargava, Ravi Shanker Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary — fail to make an appearance. Properties of Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd and Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd and the companies’ executives, as well as liquid assets were ordered to be attached in February after SEBI said the Sahara group had defaulted on two payments to investors. Earlier this month, SEBI moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to arrest Roy.

Sahara catapulted into the limelight in the 1990s with a series of finance schemes for small investors but hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in August last year when the Supreme Court said that schemes run by Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd (SHICL) and Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd (SIRECL) were illegal.

The apex court ruled the group to repay as much Rs 24,000 crore to millions of investors -- an eye-watering figure almost equal to India's elementary universal education budget.

In December, the group was allowed to pay the money in three instalments, with an immediate payment of Rs 5,120 crore to be followed by a tranche of Rs 10,000 crore in the first week of January and the rest by the first week of February this year.

Last month, SEBI ordered freezing bank accounts and attachment of properties of the two Sahara companies and their top executives for failing to comply with the court's orders. The regulator had said that the January and February instalments were not paid.

Roy has already challenged the attachment orders before t he Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) and the matter is scheduled for hearing on April 13.

"In these appeals, Sahara have challenged the attachment order passed by SEBI, inter-alia on the grounds that SEBI has no jurisdiction to pass such orders under the SEBI Act and that their documents of redemptions made to investors have been wrongly rejected as "Not Acceptable," said a Sahara group statement.

SEBI said on Tuesday that Roy, Bhargava, Dubey and Choudhary had not provided details of their assets within 21 days of the attachment order dated February 13.

The regulator said it was necessary to examine Roy and three others to ascertain details of their personal assets as also investments and assets of the two companies "to comply with the directions relating to the sale of assets as provided in the orders of the Supreme Court dated August 31, 2012 and December 5, 2012, and to pass necessary orders for the sale of assets for realisation of the monies due".
Hindustan Times (Lucknow), 27 Mar 2013

Agusta Westland Chopper SCAM: The Tyagi threesome and AgustaWestland

Rajiv Tyagi, eldest of three brothers, is a qualified doctor who doesn’t practise. His name crops up as one of the managers of film actor Amitabh Bachchan when he stepped into politics and contested the Allahabad Lok Sabha seat in 1984.

His two brothers and he began liaison work. Rajiv had good relations with Muslim groups in Lucknow and Allahabad. The Bharatiya Janata Party found him useful in engaging with these groups and later found work for him. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s foster son- in- law, Ranjan Bhattacharya recalls him as a person who “ used to handle Mr Vajpayee’s constituency, Lucknow.” “ I used to run into him once in a while in Lalji Tandon’s ( party leader and exminister) office when I used to visit Lucknow,” he told Business Standard. “ I have nothing to do with him beyond that.” Yet, in the rumour capital that is Delhi, Rajiv Tyagi was known as a ‘ friend of Ranjan Bhattacharya’s, a man who could get things done’. He bought a house in South Delhi’s posh Sainik Farms and later, some say, also on tony West End, presumably through money made through liaison work.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office from 2000 to 2004 say they do recall the matter of the purchase of a helicopter for VVIPs coming up in 2002.

The Tyagi brothers allegedly intervened through Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi; his name and theirs’ features in the court testimony of Guido Haschke as those who were bribed to swing the deal. “ You don’t know Rajiv Tyagi?” exclaimed a Delhi mover and shaker. “ Everyone knows him.” He rattled off the names of half a dozen politician- industrialists who have used Tyagi’s unique entrepreneurial talents in the past. Tyagi could not be contacted for a comment.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How Ram Kadam became MNS’s chief intimidator

A day after legislators led by Kadam assaulted a traffic cop in Vidhan Bhavan, Mirror chronicles his career built on threatening, intimidating and even beating up government and police officials

Shortly after dropping out of a diploma in electrical power systems in the early nineties, Ram Shivaji Kadam — the MNS legislator notorious for his high-handed and violent tactics — opened a small distribution agency, delivering tea packets on a cycle.

Born and raised in a chawl in Vikhroli, he also gave private tuition to schoolchildren and dabbled in money-lending.

Formers friends and neighbours remember a young Kadam as a soft-spoken, but pushy operator who knew how to build political contacts and “get things done” — a quality that years later landed him a ticket from Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in the 2009 assembly elections.

Kadam, 42, contested the elections from Ghatkopar (West) and defeated the late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan’s daughter, Poonam, gaining political fame in the city overnight.

Long before he joined the MNS, it was Mahajan who hired Kadam as a peon-assistant, giving him access to political and government back-channels which, some say, Kadam used to build a fortune in real estate. Far from his cycling days, he now drives around in a Hummer, a Bentley and a Lexus, with private bodyguards close by.

The shocking assault of a traffic police officer by Kadam and other MLAs in the Vidhan Bhavan on Tuesday has brought the MNS legislator’s past — and ‘rise’ — into focus.

Kadam was born on January 24, 1972, and grew up with his elder brother, Dilip, in Kadam Chawl, Vikhroli (East). The father, originally from Latur, work edasan ‘officer’ at a private firm in Vikhroli, Hindustan Ferodo, earning just enough to send his sons to a local municipal school.

After the family’s financial position improved, Kadam was shifted to Ghatkopar’s Pune Vidya Bhavan School, where Pramod Mahajan’s son, Rahul, also studied. Kadam’s one-time friends say he always maintained a good relationship with Rahul.

After Std X, he pursued a diploma in electrical power systems. While some accounts say he completed his studies, others say he dropped out from the course after the second year. Later, he started a myriad of small businesses, even as he landed the job of a peon-assistant to Mahajan. “He mostly looked after petty finances of the BJP leader,” said a former aide to Mahajan. “Despite the limited work profile, he had significant exposure to political contacts and bureaucratic set-ups.”

After Mahajan lost a local election in 1998, Kadam was “alienated” from the BJP leader. “Due to his good ties with Mahajan and his son, Kadam had become an influential figure in the Mumbai unit. When some in the party started feeling threatened,they pitted him against Mahajan’s daughter, whom they saw as a promising candidate,” said a BJP leader. “The inner politics ultimately forced Kadam to quit.”

Later, Kadam started a construction firm with his friends, and launched his first project, Krishna Heights, in Khar. The company, Shivraj Builders & Developers, subsequently constructed nine other residential buildings. According to its website, it has since then completed over 30 projects,many of them in Khar.

Kadam, his wife and son lived in an 800-sq ft terrace apartment in Presidency Tower, Ghatkopar, but later moved to Shivraj Heights in Khar.

While it is not clear when Kadam joined the MNS, a source in the party said that Raj Thackeray hand-picked him for contesting the Ghatkopar (West) assembly seatin 2009. Poonam Mahajan also fought for the same seat, but lost to Kadam.

After the poll win, Kadam became best known for organising extravagant Dahi Handi celebrations in Ghatkopar, inviting celebrities such as Rajesh Khanna and Jackie Shroff. In the past four years, however, the 42-year-old MLA has gained notoriety for threatening and assaulting government officials and cops, and forcing establishments, including hospitals, to toe his line.

During the assembly elections in October 2009, Kadam and his supporters assaulted Inspector Fulsingh Pawar from the Ghatkopar police station after he tried to stop them from creating a ruckus at a polling booth in the area. Kadam and his men, who had claimed that the election was being rigged at the booth, were were arrested and charged with rioting.

On November 9, 2009, four MNS legislators, including Kadam, were suspended from the assembly for four years after they slapped Samajwadi leader Abu Azmi in the assembly for taking his oath in Hindi, and not Marathi. Their suspension was revoked in July 2010.

Kadam is also known for holding ‘darbars’ and delivering his own brand of justice. Early in 2011, Kadam allegedly slapped rationing officer Prakash Pagote at a constituency meeting in Pantnagar after accusing him of trying to dodge questions about problems faced by residents.

In November that year, the police booked Kadam and five others for coercion, assault and criminal intimidation after a 50-year-old woman and her son were allegedly beaten up at his Ghatkopar office. The woman, Ambernath resident Pushpa Yadav,and her son rana cooperative saving scheme, and had failed to pay back investors. The two were taken to Kadam’s office, where his bodyguards and supporters assaulted them. A day after the humiliation, Yadav attempted suicide.

Police and civic officials have also been victims of Kadam’s high-handedness. On November 8,2011,he was booked for abusing and assaulting cops who shut down a lounge where he was partying the previous night. The lounge, on Juhu Tara Road, had been operating way past the 1.30 am deadline.

In April 2012, posters featuring Kadam’s pictures appeared across Ghatkopar, urging residents to gather in large numbers and ransack Rajawadi Hospital. The reason: the hospital’s alleged inability to provide emergency care.

In January this year, MNS workers thrashed sub-engineer Mahesh Phad after he didn’t heed Kadam’s warnings against demolishing an illegal structure in Ghatkopar that reportedly housed his aide’s office.

It is this brand of intimidation that has made Kadam a key figure in the party. “He doesn’t interact withot her sin the party much. But he has direct access to Raj Thackeray, and operates independently,” said an MNS functionary.
Yogesh Sadhwani and Chaitanya Marpakwar

Chira Bazar builders get 55-cr stamp duty fine

They, however, claim that there is no need to pay stamp duty as they have not acquired any land

The office of the collector of stamps has found that the two developers, who had signed an agreement to develop all the buildings in Chira Bazaar, have evaded duty. The state department has asked the two developers to pay Rs 55 crore as stamp duty and penalty. At the heart of the controversy is Mayank Gandhi, a member of the Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Parti. Gandhi was witness to the agreement signed by the two real estate developers to develop Chira Bazar. He was also a member of the NGO that promoted redevelopment in the area.

The issue goes back to 2007 when Lalit Gandhi of Lok Housing formed an NGO – Remaking of Mumbai Federation (ROMF) – to take up cluster development of Chira Bazar, in afirst of its kind experiment. His nephew Mayank, the secretary of the NGO, began interacting with the 8,000 families in the area.

At the time, Remaking of Mumbai Housing Infrastructure (ROMIF), a commercial entity associated with Lok Housing, submitted proposals to various government departments seeking clearance for cluster development of Chira Bazar. However, four years later, ROMIF sold a part of the project to Unity Realty and Developers Ltd (URDL) for Rs 10 crore, claiming they had consent from the residents. Mayank was accused of commercially exploiting work done by his NGO and allowing its commercial arm to sell it to another developer. On the basis of this allegation, the Aam Aadmi Party ordered a probe against Mayank Gandhi by their internal Lokpal.

Meanwhile, Janhit Manch, a Mumbai based NGO filed a complaint to the Office of Collector of Stamp, alleging the developers had evaded stamp duty on the agreement they signed.

“The actual worth of the project was much more. It is also a clear case of commercial entities and NGOs working together with sole motive of earning profits,” alleged Utsal Karani, secretary of Janhit Manch.

The enforcement cell of the Collector of Stamps then initiated an inquiry where both developers were asked to explain their stand. They claim that it was merely an understanding between the two parties and that they had not evaded any duty.

The investigators however did not buy the explanation given by the developers, stating that it was a joint development agreement between the two sides. On March 13, a notice was issued to the developers seeking Rs 36.42 crore stamp duty and a penalty of Rs 18.94 crore.

When Mumbai Mirror contacted ROMF and ROMIF officials, their representative Anil Shinde said, “We received only one communication a few months ago from Collector of Stamps Office and we responded to it. After that we haven’t received any notice to pay duty.”

Vinay Digrajkar, senior manager, corporate communications at URDL confirmed that they had received a notice to pay Rs 55 crore, but added that the developers were yet to take a decision on how to respond to the notice. “It was just an arrangement for future joint business of redevelopment. But land wasn’t procured by any partner, as neither entered in to an agreement of redevelopment with anybody. Under such circumstances Bombay Stamp Act provisions are not applicable to the said arrangement.”

Mayank Gandhi said that he had resigned from the NGO and had nothing to do with the issue.“I merely signed as a witness on the agreement. Let the state recover dues from the two entities,” he said.

BMC orders Vashu Bhagnani to remove son’s movie posters

The BMC on Wednesday issued a notice to filmmaker Vashu Bhagnani asking him to remove the posters of his son’s upcoming movie Rangrezz from his building on Juhu Tara Road following a complaint by the Juhu Citizens Welfare Group.

Only last week, the Bombay High Court had rapped the civic body and asked it to ensure that all illegal hoardings in the city are removed. BMC sources said Bhagnani, whose application has not been processed, has draped his building with huge banners of the film.

“Many hoardings have been put up all over the building,” said Mehjabeen Arwani, a member of the Juhu Citizens Welfare Group. “They are an eyesore. The BMC had removed all hoardings last week following the high court order but these posters have been put up around the building now and the authorities are looking the other way.”

Bhagnani’s under-construction building is not new to controversy. In 2011, Bhagnani’s neighbour Rajhoo Barot, who has two adjacent plots, filed a petition in the high court alleging Bhagnani of violating several environment and fire safety norms and Development Control Regulations. The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority had issued a stop work notice to the company citing alleged violation of green norms.

BMC officials said they will pull down the posters on Thursday.

“They had applied for permission but displayed the poster seven before permissions were sanctioned,” said Vishwas Shankarwar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, K-West ward. “We have issued a notice and will remove the posters on Thursday. Further action will then be taken against them.”

When contacted, Baghnani said neither he nor his office has received any notice from the BMC and they will look into the matter once they get it.
Chaitanya Marpakwar

Sebi slaps over 30- crore penalty on 118 entities in BoR case

Market regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) today imposed a total penalty of ? 30.75 crore on 118 entities, including the promoters of erstwhile Bank of Rajasthan ( BoR), for manipulative practices in the stock market during 2007- 2009.

Sebi has slapped a fine of 5 crore each on BoRs then promoter Pravin Kumar Tayal, his brothers — Sanjay Tayal and Navin Tayal — and his son, Saurabh Tayal — for violations of various norms. Besides, Sebi has imposed apenalty of ? 18 lakh each on 10 promoter group companies of the bank.

Another promoter entity — Ginger Clothing — has been slapped with a ? 15 lakh fine. Further, Sebi has imposed a fine of ? 10 lakh each on 10 entities for alleged failure to make an open offer regarding shares of BoR.

Sebi has alleged incorrect disclosures were made by all the promoters of BoR and their PACs ( Persons Acting in Concert) for the period June 2007 to December 2009. These entities have been referred by regulator as the promoter group companies and its directors, the Tayal group companies and directors, the Silvassa Group entities and the Yadav Group entities.

"Investigation alleged that the promoter group of BoR alongwith some companies which were belonging to the Tayal Group transferred shares in the off- market to entities, who were identified by investigation as Yadav Group and Silvassa Group.

"Further, fund movements were observed between the entities. Certain entities belonging to the Tayal, Silvassa and Yadav Groups were also seen to have purchased shares of BoR on market. These entities had received funds from Promoter/ Tayal Group companies," the order said.

Further, third party payments were also made to brokers on behalf of noticees belonging to the Tayal, Silvassa and Yadav Groups purchasing shares of BoR on market, it added. BoRs then promoters, led by Pravin Kumar Tayal, along with some companies that were connected to him and his relatives, by way of their continuous disclosure publicly announced their stake had come down from 44.18 per cent at the end of three months period ended June 2007 to 28.6 per cent as on quarter ending December 2009.

However, in reality, the holding of the promoters increased with the active collusion of front entities. Shareholding of promoters of BoR with PACs had increased from 46.8 per cent in June 2007 to 63.15 per cent in December 2009.

Sebi has imposed a penalty of ? 18 lakh each on 10 promoter group companies of Bank of Rajasthan
Mumbai, 14 February

DVB Bank Again Tries to Reclaim Planes from KFA

German bank to send team to India to get aircraft leased to Kingfisher deregistered

Germany’s DVB Bank, the world’s largest aviation financing bank, is sending a team to India next week to get two of its planes leased to grounded Kingfisher Airlines deregistered so that it can reclaim its property. This will be its second attempt to resolve the issue. If the team fails, the German bank will seek legal recourse. It has already filed a suit against the Indian regulator and Kingfisher in December, as the authorities were not willing to deregister the aircraft then. DVB has already announced it is halting all financing to Indian airline companies based on this experience.

The team will be meeting all stakeholders in New Delhi and put up its case for ending the Kingfisher lease and get the aircraft de-registered from India so that this wasted asset can be leased to other carriers or for any other usage it has in mind.

The two planes were sent to Turkey for repair and maintenance where DVB seized these. However, unless the planes are de-registered in the lessor country, the German bank can’t lease them to other carriers or sell them. The regulator’s stand so far has been that apart from DVB, there are other creditors, so it has to take the consent of these before de-registering the planes.

Recently, the civil aviation ministry decided that all 15 of the deregistered aircraft that are no longer held under a Kingfisher lease would be released to the respective leasing firms and a note to that affect would be circulated soon. Earlier, the authorities including the Airports Authority of India had decided that till such time the bankrupt airline does not clear dues, they would not release the aircraft. Reacting to the development, the German bank said this move of the government does not impact it directly but is positive and it hopes that there would be some solution found in the meeting on March 25 when they meet all the parties concerned.

“Although this is not directly applicable to DVB’s situation, where DGCA so far has not deregistered our two aircraft which already are outside India, it increases our hope that in our next meeting with the DGCA on March 25, 2013, to which all relevant parties in our case have been invited by the DGCA, we can convince the authority that there is no reason not to deregister our aircraft, and thereby avoid the need to obtain a decision from the New Delhi HC on April 8, 2013,” said Carsten Gerlach, senior vicepresident, aviation finance, DVB Bank, in a mailed response to ET’s query.

Other leasing firms will benefit from the government decision, he said. “DVB views the announcement of the release of ex-Kingfisher aircraft from their current grounding at Indian airports a further encouraging sign of the willingness of the Indian government and administration to finally help the international aircraft leasing and finance community to recover their assets originally on lease to Kingfisher Airlines and move on,” Gerlach said.

Attempts to reach the director general of civil aviation Arun Mishra for a comment failed as he is currently out of India. He did not respond to a message sent to him on the same issue either.

Striking a pessimistic note, sources within Kingfisher said that it might not be easy for the German firm to conclude the issue within a single meeting.