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Pilatus aircraft deal: CBI searches Sanjay Bhandari’s premises

Central Bureau of Investigation HQ, in New Delhi

Central Bureau of Investigation HQ, in New Delhi

The Central Bureau of Investigation has conducted searches at nine locations, including the premises of ‘absconding’ defence dealer Sanjay Bhandari, in connection with the ₹2,895.63-crore Pilatus trainer aircraft deal case.

The case alleging corruption in the deal for supply of 75 trainer aircraft was registered on June 19, following a preliminary enquiry initiated in November 2016. Based on the FIR, the Enforcement Directorate may soon initiate a money laundering probe.

Among those named as accused are Switzerland-based Pilatus Aircrafts Limited, unknown officials of the Indian Air Force and the Defence Ministry, Mr. Bhandari as director of Offset India Solutions Private Limited and another director Bimal Sareen. Mr. Bhandari is now said to be in the United Kingdom.

Deepak Aggarwal, Himanshu Verma, Offset India Solutions Private Limited and Dubai-based Offset India Solutions FZC have also been arraigned.

According to the CBI, the searches were carried out in Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida on Friday. “A local office of Pilatus Aircrafts and the places linked to Mr. Aggarwal and Mr. Verma, besides the offices of some other companies were also searched,” said an agency official.

It is alleged that, as part of the conspiracy, Pilatus Aircrafts made payments of over ₹21 crore in two tranches to Mr. Bhandari’s company in India from August to October in 2010 and about ₹339 crore to his Dubai firm during 2011-2015.

The Air Force had issued a request for proposal for procurement of 75 basic trainer aircraft on December 16, 2009. The CBI alleges that Pilatus Aircrafts, one of the bidders, conspired with Mr. Bhandari and others to bag the deal. The supplier signed a service provider agreement with him in June 2010, in “violation” of the defence procurement procedure, to get the contract.

Pilatus Aircrafts fraudulently signed a Pre-Contract Integrity Pact with the Defence Ministry on November, 12, 2010, deliberately concealing the service provider agreement with Mr. Bhandari, as alleged. “It is suspected that the said commission amount was paid in order to influence the public servants associated with the process of procurement,” said the agency.

In May 2012, Pilatus Aircrafts got the contract. The agency suspects that the commission was paid for influencing the public servants who were associated with the process of procurement.

Offset India Solutions and six other domestic companies of Mr. Bhandari, apart from his wife Sonia Bhandari, allegedly received ₹25.5 crore from June 2012 to March 2015 in lieu of the cash provided by him from nine companies of Mr. Aggarwal.

Mr. Bhandari took over five companies from Mr. Verma with the help of Mr. Aggarwal and ₹39.36 crore was deposited in them in lieu of the cash given by the defence dealer.


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Printable version | May 23, 2022 5:54:50 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pilatus-aircraft-deal-cbi-searches-sanjay-bhandaris-premises/article28108119.ece