Soon after the BBC revealed details of alleged payoffs being given by Rolls Royce to Indian arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has moved to initiate financial inquiries into 52 companies owned by him in India. The summons, sent to the London-based businessman on October 21, has a list of all 52 companies that are owned or linked to either Sudhir Choudhrie or his wife Anita Choudhrie.
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Choudhrie has been given until November 4 to furnish all financial data, details of ownership/promoters/directors as well as details of loans, payments and balance sheets of these 52 companies with one of his employees, Satya Pal Khanna, being asked to appear for questioning.
Officials in the ED said the summons was sent to Choudhrie and his company MITCO (Magnum International Trading Company Ltd) — his flagship company in New Delhi — taking cognizance of a 2011 directive of a Delhi court that while the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may be allowed to close the probe in the 2004 Soltam guns upgrade case, the ED should nonetheless continue an investigation into the money trail.
Thus, five years later, the ED has effectively “reopened” the Soltam inquiry and begun with launching an omnibus financial investigation into all dealings of companies owned by Choudhrie and his wife. Some of the companies listed along with the summons are Burgundy Tradings Pvt Ltd, Multimax Mercantile Pvt Ltd, Alpha Corp Development Pvt Ltd, Sahayak Towers Pvt Ltd, Sweet Home Estate Pvt Ltd and Taj Kendra Hotels and Resorts Ltd.
Choudhrie had been named in two FIRs lodged by the CBI, in the Barak case in 2006 and in the Soltam case in 2007 for alleged payoffs made into his companies for the order to upgrade 130-mm field guns. Both the cases have since been closed and Choudhrie, who shifted base to London in 2006, returned to the country for frequent visits only after the closure report filed by the CBI in the Soltam case was accepted. He is understood to have visited New Delhi two weeks ago.