CBI seeks US help for probe into Antrix-Devas case
Days after filling the chargesheet in the multi-crore Antrix-Devas spectrum deal case, the CBI is now contemplating sending a judicial request to the US for getting details about a firm based there.
“The agency is preparing to seek assistance of the US justice department through its judicial request or letter rogatory (LR) in the case,” sources said. The CBI recently filed its charesheet in the case and named former ISRO chairperson G. Madhavan Nair as an accused in its probe report. The chargesheet was filed a month after India lost an arbitration case in an international tribunal over Antrix scrapping a deal with Devas and is liable to pay compensation which could run into millions of dollars. The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that India had acted “unfairly“ and “inequitably” in nullifying the contract.
The CBI is also preparing to send judicial requests to Mauritius and Singapore to get details about three firms based there. “Investigations by the agency have revealed that certain overseas firms, based in Mauritius and Singapore, allegedly paid high premiums to an accused firm in the case for issuance of preference shares,” sources said. This is the reason that the CBI is preparing to send judicial requests to Singapore and Mauritius seeking details about suspected firms based there, they added.
This deal had seen the early exit of Mr Nair as ISRO chairperson. Mr Nair was the chairperson of the governing council of the department of space’s Antrix Corporation when the deal was finalised. Others named in the chargesheet include former executive director of Antrix, K.R. Sridhar Murthy, former managing director of USA-based Forge Advisors and CEO of Devas, Ramachandra Vishwanathan, and former director of Devas M.G. Chandrasekhar. The chargesheet filed in a special CBI court also named former additional-secretary in the department of space, Veena S. Rao, the then-director of ISRO, A. Bhaskar Narayana Rao and two directors of Devas Multi media, D. Venugopal and M. Umesh.
The LR is a judicial request issued by a competent court to a foreign court and processed by the ministry of external affairs on behalf of investigative agencies to obtain information about individuals and entities. As per provisions of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, the agency can seek assistance from foreign agencies only in cases which are criminal in nature, sources said.