New FIR lodged against arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari

NEW DELHI: In a fresh bout of trouble for absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked Bhandari, M/s Samsung Engineering, a South Korean company and “unknown” officials of ONGC/ONGO petro addition (OPAL) on charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy.
It is alleged that acting as middleman Bhandari “induced” unknown public servants to show “undue favour” to the consortium of M/s Samsung Engineering Corporation Ltd. South Korea in the award of contract of DFCU project at Dahej, Gujarat.

In lieu of this, it is alleged that Bhandari’s UAE based consultancy company received kickbacks from M/s SECL.

As per available information the said deal, struck during UPA, was under the scanner of investigative agencies to probe its alleged link to the purchase of half a dozen alleged benami properties in London, allegedly for Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has already quizzed Vadra several times in connection with its ongoing probe into alleged money laundering involving purchase of a London property worth 1.9 million pounds. It had informed a local Court last year that it was looking into whether a 2008 deal, between state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corporation and Samsung Engineering, was connected to the purchase of benami properties in London, allegedly for Vadra.

Vadra has repeatedly denied all allegations against him, calling those baseless. He has also denied any business association with Sanjay Bhandari.

People with direct knowledge of the matter indicated that with CBI registering a predicate offence in the said deal, the ED is likely to follow up on the probe and register a case.

The CBI on Wednesday registered a case against Sanjay Bhandari, M/s. Santech International, FZC, UAE, M/s. Samsung Engineering Co. Ltd., South Korea, M/s. Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd., UK; Hong NamKoong, the then senior manager, M/s. SECL, South Korea and unknown officials of ONGC/OPaL and unknown others.

CBI has alleged that Sanjay Bhandari, Director of M/s. Santech international, UAE acted in criminal conspiracy with other accused and in furtherance of the said conspiracy entered into a consultancy agreement with M/s. SECL in violation of the contract agreement between M/s. OPaL & M/s. SECL and allegedly obtained US$ 49,99,969(approx) from M/s. SECL in the overseas bank account of M/s Santech International, UAE.

This was allegedly done in order to induce unknown public servants to show alleged undue favour to the consortium of M/s SECL in the award of contract of DFCU project at Dahej, Gujarat. It is further alleged that the said agreement was relating to the consultancy services to be provided by M/s. Santech International FZC to M/s. SECL for obtaining the said contract.

ED on June 2 has charge sheeted Sanjay Bhandari on charges of money laundering paving way for his extradition from London. It might be mentioned here that Bhandari, along with unknown officials of the Indian Air Force and others, already stands booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation last June on charges of corruption in a Rs 2,985-crore deal in 2009 to procure 75 PC-7 trainer aircraft from Swiss plane maker Pilatus Aircraft.

ET on April 29 had reported that ED has the process to confiscate properties, worth hundreds of crores, allegedly acquired by Bhandari with proceeds of crime

It has summoned three individuals including Bhandari’s wife Sonia and 13 companies, asking them to explain their links to these properties in India and abroad.

This is part of the proceedings to obtain the tag of fugitive economic offender for Bhandari. Bhandari is also being probed by the Income Tax Department for possessing undeclared wealth of more than Rs 500 crore.

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