Devas-Antrix PMLA case: Court issues fresh summons to US-based Devas founders

Written by Johnson T A
| Bengaluru |

November 9, 2020 5:05:53 am

The special court for PMLA cases had ordered issuance of a second set of summons in January. (Representational Image)

A special court in Bengaluru has issued fresh summons — the third issued by the court — seeking the appearance of two US-based founders of the Bengaluru-based start-up Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd to commence the trial of a money laundering case being prosecuted by the ED.

The move — in the case in which a chargesheet was filed in 2018 by the ED — comes after the special public prosecutor’s office submitted during a hearing on October 28 that the agency was unable to serve summons on the firm’s CEO Ramachandran Viswanathan and senior official M G Chandrashekhar, who are among six individuals and four entities linked to the firm accused of involvement in the over Rs 500 crore money laundering case, for the trial.

“SPP submits that he has received a letter from the Ministry of External Affairs… that the Department of Justice in the USA has informed the Indian Embassy that the summons could not be served as per letter of request and seeks for fresh summons/LR (letter of request),” the special court observed while ordering fresh summons to begin the trial.

The case was filed over a failed 2005 satellite launch deal between the start-up and ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation.

The special court for PMLA cases had ordered issuance of a second set of summons in January after the ED told the court that summons issued on September 11, 2019 for appearance of the two US-based officials were not as per MHA guidelines for legal assistance from the US under a mutual legal assistance treaty. The ED and the CBI, which has filed a corruption case against Devas and former ISRO officials, have been attempting to bring the US-based officials to trial after chargesheets were filed in two separate cases being prosecuted by the two central agencies.

Under the PMLA Act, the ED had chargesheeted Ramachandran Viswanathan and M G Chandrashekar, as well as two Devas CTOs Desaraju Venugopal and Nataraj Dakshinamurthy, finance director Ranganathan Mohan, four Devas subsidiaries in Bengaluru and the US, and K R Sridharamurthy the former executive director of Antrix, over the 2005 satellite deal.

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