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Verma, wife getting ‘favours’ from Tihar officers, says ED

Seizes ‘written notes, iPhone’ from employee of alleged arms dealer

New Delhi | Published: February 3, 2014 12:15:28 am

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing money laundering charges against alleged arms dealer Abhishek Verma, has stumbled upon 30 pages of written notes and an iPhone which the directorate says contains instructions sent by Verma from Tihar jail to his associates. The CBI and the ED have launched multiple probes against Verma, his Romanian wife Anca Neacsu and others for allegedly acting as middlemen in defence contracts and selling defence secrets.

Sources said an iPhone being used by Verma was recovered during a raid last month at the house of one of his employees. The phone, according to the ED, contains damaging details of “comfort” being provided by Tihar jail officials to Verma and his wife and money being charged for it. To facilitate the use of mobile, Tihar jail officials were demanding Rs 3-4 lakh, claimed ED officials.

The name of a senior Tihar jail official is also stored in the phone. The ED officials said they will inform the authorities regarding rampant corruption and facilities being extended to Verma. When contacted, Tihar PRO Sunil Gupta told The Indian Express, “Whenever such complaints are brought to our notice, we immediately take action against the officers or staff.” He also said so far he had not received any complaints.

The alleged notes written by Verma were seized from his aunt’s house in Minto Road in central Delhi. The notes purportedly contain instructions to his close aides for movement of funds. In one of the notes, Verma allegedly directs his men to collect Rs 4 crore from a former associates’ wife based in Dubai. The associate, according to the note, had passed away and the money was lying with his wife.

The agency also recorded the statement of his aunt and her son who claimed the notes were written by Verma in jail.

When contacted, Verma’s counsel said, “The allegation that he was using a mobile phone in the jail is false. There are security checks in Tihar and it is not possible to use a mobile. We are also not aware of the details of the raid conducted by the ED and whether any handwritten notes were found, we cannot comment.” The ED also seized 39 paintings and Rolex watches during the raid. The ED is also in the process of writing to National Gallery of Modern Art, for assistance to find out the market value of the paintings which are said to be worth Rs 20 crore. The paintings seized are believed to be the works of M F Husain and Manu Parekh, among others. A Rolex watch, worth Rs 20 lakh and said to be belonging to Anca, was also seized.

In October last year, the ED had seized 16 watches of foreign make, worth Rs 44 lakh, allegedly belonging to Verma and his wife.

After a series of reports by The Indian Express, the ED had registered the PMLA case against Verma, based on a CBI case against him and his wife for allegedly receiving $5,30,000 from Swiss defence equipment supplier Rheinmetall Air Defence AG through the US-based front company Ganton to stall its blacklisting by bribing public servants in India.

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