The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has begun a “preliminary enquiry” into the financial transactions that took place in connection with the Antrix-Devas deal.
The Directorate's zonal office in Bangalore has begun the probe to ascertain if any contraventions with regard to foreign exchange or anti-money laundering laws in the deal have occurred.
The investigation, which the agency will conduct with the help of the Reserve Bank of India and the Income Tax Department, will also check the authenticity of the alleged stake of a few Mauritius-based entities in Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd, which executed the controversial S-band deal with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). “A preliminary enquiry has been started after consultations and directions from the ED headquarters in Delhi,” sources in the agency said. They, however, added that a case will be registered in the deal once any irregularity with respect to the Foreign Exchange Management Act or the stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act is detected.
Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO, had signed a deal with Devas in January 2005 to provide it with crucial S-Band wavelength, which is primarily kept for strategic interests of the country.
The ED probe will also look at the financial dealings of individuals involved in the deal and detect if ‘benami' or fictitious properties were purchased from illegal proceeds.
The spectrum was meant for running digital multimedia service by leasing 90 per cent transponders on two satellites — GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A.