New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) A court here on Wednesday discharged arms dealer Abhishek Verma, his wife, and others in two cases — one of corruption and another of money laundering — related to Switzerland-based company Rheinmetall Air Defense (RAD).
Special Judge Anju Bajaj Chandna discharged Verma, his Romanian wife Anca Maria Neacsu, company Rheinmetall and its Senior Vice-President Gerhard Hoy of charges of criminal conspiracy and those under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The court also discharged Verma, his wife and Delhi-based Ganton India Pvt. Ltd. in the money laundering case.
The case dates back to 2010. The Central Bureau of Investigation had alleged that Verma, Anca, Gerhard Hoy hatched a criminal conspiracy to prevent blacklisting of Rheinmetall Air Defence.
The CBI recommended blacklisting of RAD as it was found that the company paid huge gratification amount for award of a contract by the Ordnance Factory Board, Kolkata.
While the matter of blacklisting was under process, Abhishek Verma assured RAD representatives of help by influencing public servants to stall the blacklisting process.
RAD agreed and paid an advance of $5,30,000 for using his influence, the CBI alleged.
The Enforcement Directorate alleged that RAD transferred the amount to Ganton USA, a company incorporated by Verma’s friend.
“Thereafter, between April 15, 2011, and October 12, 2011, a total of Rs 2.2 crore (approximately) was received by Ganton India Pvt. Ltd. from Ganton USA,” the ED said.
Verma’s wife Anca was director of Ganton India.
The court observed that the transfer of funds from Rheinmettal Air Defence to Ganton USA cannot be termed as illegal gratification.
It added that no criminality can be attached to the transfer of funds by Ganton USA to Ganton India and said: “In such situation, since there is no existence of proceeds of crime, no question of proceeds/money being laundered or projected as untainted arises.”
“Rheinmetall Air Defence and accused Gerhard Hoy cannot be roped in for criminal conspiracy, nor the money transaction can be termed as illegal gratification,” the court ruled.
“Nowhere is discussion about involvement of public servant or public office is shown during the meetings of the accused.”
The court said: “Minus any promise to influence public servant, the offence described under Section 8 (taking gratification, in order, by corrupt or illegal means, to influence public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, is not made out.”
The court said that “if private persons deliberate to solve some issue and even exchange money for this purpose, Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, is not attracted”.
“I, therefore, come to the conclusion that there is no evidence against company Rheinmetall Air Defence and its Senior Vice-President Gerhard Hoy to show that illegal gratification of $5,29,982 has been paid on account of influencing public servants through accused Abhishek Verma for the purpose of preventing blacklisting of the company,” the court said.
“Nothing incriminating is found in the entire material relied upon by the prosecution and there is no prima facie evidence to substantiate the version of the prosecution.”