ED issues notices to firms linked to arms dealer Choudhrie

Enforcement Directorate has issued notices to firms linked to Indian arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie in connection with its foreign exchange violations probe in a 16-year-old case emerging out of alleged payment of kickbacks for providing field guns to the army and certain other defence deals.

Official sources said the agency has sought documents and financial statements of the firms linked to Choudhrie as part of its investigation in the case registered under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). 

One of the notices issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) relates to a case in which a Delhi Court in 2011 had directed the agency to probe the "receipt of commission" to Choudhrie and others. 

The court had then accepted the closure report filed by CBI in this case that was registered following a sting operation that had alleged upgrade of the army's 130 mm field guns involved payment of USD 1,56,940 in kickbacks. The court had given a clean chit to Choudhrie for lack of evidence while asking ED at the same time to go into the matter.

CBI had registered a case in July 2004 against erstwhile Samata Party's national treasurer R K Jain, also the director of Magnum International Trading Co Ltd (MITCO), Choudhrie and unknown public servants of the Ministry of Defence and the army for alleged cheating and corruption by entering into criminal conspiracy to award the contract for upgrading of 130 mm field guns to 155 mm by importing 185 kits costing Rs 208.15 crore to Israeli firm Soltam Limited.

Sources while said the initial amount under the scanner of ED is about Rs 68 lakh, received by a firm in 2000 through foreign transfer of funds, it is understood that the agency is looking to widen its probe in all the defence deals related to Choudhrie and others.  

A media report had recently said that British defence major Rolls Royce made 'secret payments' of around 10 million pounds to an Indian defence agent, identified as Choudhrie, that may have helped the company to win a big contract for engines on Hawk aircraft used by the Indian Air Force.
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