Saturday, October 30, 2021

Helicopter seized in Chennai was destined to Iran, says ED

Chennai: A day after the Enforcement Directorate freezed a multipurpose utility helicopter that was dismantled and stored in a warehouse near Chennai, sources said the action came after a request from the US as the authorities there suspected that it was scheduled to be sent to Iran, a country that the US has kept in the prohibited list.

The helicopter owned by Marilog Avion Services, Bangkok, was seized from the Free Trade Warehouse Zone, Sriperumbudur, under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

It was legally imported from the US by one Hameed Ibrahim and was kept at the warehouse for export, sources said, noting that the US’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) believe that Marilog Avion Services was involved in a scheme to illicitly procure Bell 214 helicopters on behalf of Iranian end-user, FARSCO Aviation MRO Centre. Mohamad Rifan and Ibrahim Nasir as the principal employees of Marilog Avion Services.

The DHS had registered a case and was investigating the matter due to the alleged attempt to take it to Iran. Then the Department of Justice made a request for assistance in accordance with the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in executing the warrant issued by the District Court of Columbia, US, to seize the helicopter located in Chennai.

The directorate said the helicopter was imported by Hameed Ibrahim and Abdulla from AAR Corporation, US, and shipped to India through Thailand in 2019. It was stored in the warehouse in Sriperumbudur. Searches were carried out at various premises, including the warehouse and the residential premises of the directors of Marilog Avion Services.

Officials said the helicopter was kept at the warehouse on a monthly rental basis. It was found in a dismantled condition, with its rotor blade, tailboom, engine, rotor hub, etc. detached and packed separately. Subsequently, a freezing order under Section 17(1A) of PMLA, 2002, was issued to the custodian of the warehouse to restrain further movement of the helicopter and its spare parts from there.

30/10/21 DT Next

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