CBI: Verma struck deal with Israeli firm to help avoid duty

During their questioning,it was revealed the Ministry of Commerce had imposed a $100 million anti-dumping duty on ECI Telecom

Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi | Published: June 23, 2012 1:40:54 am

Arms dealer Abhishek Verma,arrested for his alleged role in trying to help Swiss company Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD) AG from being blacklisted,used his Romanian wife Anca Neascu as a ‘front’ in most of the arms deals,according to CBI investigators.

The analysis of e-mails seized from their laptops also revealed that Verma and his wife — both currently in judicial custody —- allegedly tried to help an Israel-based telecom company,ECI Telecom,get a waiver on anti-dumping duty.

The CBI arrested Verma and his wife on June 8 and took them in remand. During their questioning,it was revealed the Ministry of Commerce had imposed a $100 million anti-dumping duty on ECI Telecom. CBI officials said Verma through US-based company Ganton USA,where his wife was the director,allegedly promised ECI Telecom that he would help waive off the anti-dumping duty and took advance money from them.

Verma’s questioning also revealed that he struck a deal for $55,00,000 (approx Rs 27.50 crore) with RAD AG. Out of the agreed amount,RAD deposited $5,30,000 (approx Rs 3 crore) into Verma’s account in the US in January 2011 to stall blacklisting proceedings initiated by the government against it after the 2009 Ordnance Factory Board scam.

The Ministry of Defence finally blacklisted RAD in March 2012 along with five other defence supply companies. Sleuths suspect that such large amount of money deposited in Verma’s account was meant for other purposes apart from halting the process of blacklisting. The agency is also examining RAD’s participation in the supply of L-70 guns for the Indian Army. The MoD has been trying to procure L-70 guns and RAD was one of the suppliers till it was blacklisted. The deal for L-70 guns was worth Rs 300-400 crore.

During their questioning,Verma and his wife said the money deposited in their account was never paid back to RAD despite the company getting blacklisted.

“It has led us to believe that Verma,who was earlier involved in arms dealing and is an accused in leaking of sensitive information in the naval war room case,was helping the Swiss firm in other manners as well. We have certain leads from the questioning of Verma which are being verified,” said a CBI official.

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