After the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has now booked Rolls Royce, the luxury car and engine maker, under Prevention of Money Laundering Act over allegations of making illegitimate payments in the form of commissions in return for contracts from three state-run Indian companies.
The probe agency claims that Rolls Royce violated the integrity pact agreement and paid 10 to 11.3 per cent commission on the total value of contract (Rs 286.55 crore) it signed with HAL in energy sector between 2007-11. This commission was paid to Ashok Patni of Ashmore Private Limited.
“We have filed an Enforcement Case Information Report [ECIR] on the basis of FIR filed by the CBI and started the investigation,” an official of ED told India Today TV.
Rolls-Royce allegedly made payments in several instalments to Ashok Patni between 2007 and 2011 in a bank reportedly located in Singapore and Hong Kong. The ED suspects that the payments may have been directed to officials of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and GAIL India Limited as a bribe.
Rolls Royce came under the scanner of Indian investigative agencies when the Defence Ministry in 2014 had ordered a CBI probe.
Before the Indian investigative agencies, Rolls Royce was probed by UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in 2013 for hiring defence dealer Sudhir Chaudhary to win contracts in Indonesia and China.
Engine Division of HAL (2000-13) has placed a purchase order to Rolls Royce to the tune of Rs 4455 crore.
Total commission paid by Rolls Royce to officials of HAL, ONGC and GAIL through Ashmore totals approximately Rs 75 crore.
Rolls Royce in a statement had earlier said, “We are aware of reports that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India has announced a First Information Report [FIR] relating to the use of intermediaries by Rolls-Royce’s former Energy business in India. This is not about our Defence, Civil Aerospace or Power Systems businesses.”
“We await contact from the CBI and will respond appropriately. We will not tolerate business misconduct of any sort and we are committed to maintaining high ethical standards and no-one currently working for Rolls-Royce in India played any part in these Energy deals. India is an important market for Rolls-Royce and we have a valued workforce of skilled people in the country.”