The Central Bureau of Investigation has approached the Directorate of Enforcement to rope it into the probe against businessman Abhishek Verma and his Romanian wife Anca Neascu, who were arrested on Friday for allegedly receiving $5,30,000 from the blacklisted Swiss defence equipment supplier Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD) AG, through a front company, to reverse its untrustworthy status.
A CBI special court on Saturday remanded the newlywed couple in CBI custody for seven days.
While the agency will confront the accused with some documents and emails seized during the searches conducted a couple of days ago, the ED has been asked to probe offshore transactions purportedly made between RAD and the New York-headquartered Ganton Limited allegedly at Mr. Verma's behest.
According to the complaint lodged with the ED in February by Mr. Verma's former lawyer and business associate C. Edmonds Allen, the U.S.-based lawyer set up Ganton Limited in 2005 at the request of the Indian businessman. Mr. Allen acted as president of the company which, he said, was established to manage Mr. Verma's overseas assets.
Mr. Allen alleged that at the instance of Mr. Verma, Ganton Limited USA purchased 99.99 per cent shareholding in Ganton India Private Limited, which was formed in 2009, and the remaining 0.01 per cent was with Ms. Neascu, a director of Ganton India.
The lawyer also provided details of at least four foreign bank accounts, including that of Ganton Limited USA, alleging that they were used to launder money over a period of time. However, investigations in the case registered by the CBI against Mr. Verma, RAD, their associates and unknown persons would in all probability be restricted to the monetary transactions made allegedly for influencing public servants to stall the process of blacklisting of the Swiss firm by the Defence Ministry.
The company was blacklisted for 10 years in March this year.
The amount in question was purportedly transferred by RAD to Ganton Limited USA's bank account on January 31 last year. The agencies would also try to ascertain if any part of that money made its way into India and was ever used to pay illegal gratification to any public servant involved in the process of blacklisting the company.
For his part, Mr. Verma earlier this week moved a city court accusing Mr. Allen of cheating him of Rs.55 crore and forging e-mails to defame him. The court has taken cognisance of the complaint and listed the matter for pre-summoning evidence on July 21.
During Saturday's hearing, defence counsel Vijay Aggarwal alleged that Ms. Neascu's passport was illegally seized and said she wished to meet the Ambassador to Romania. To this, the judge asked him to move an application at the appropriate stage.
(With inputs from Jiby Kattakayam)