NEW DELHI: A day after Express broke the story on arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari’s mysterious ‘escape’ to the UK, a shaken government has sought a report from the Immigration Department to ascertain whether he used any Indian port to sneak out, evading law enforcement agencies.
According to a top government official, the immigration report to the Home Ministry said Bhandari didn’t slip out from any Indian port and that he could have escaped from Nepal evading a look-out notice.
“The Home Ministry is likely to seek a report from the Delhi Police which had registered a case against Sanjay Bhandari under the Official Secrets Act and was tasked to investigate how an arms dealer came in possession of classified defence documents,” said the official.
It is learnt that the Delhi Police who had come under heavy criticism after the Express report, had ordered an internal inquiry while maintaining that they were unaware of Bhandari’s whereabouts. According to sources, Bhandari’s escape came at a time when a multi-agency probe was accelerated for examining the documents seized from his residence and office premises.
The investigators had already planned to question several serving and retired officials as well as Bhandari’s private links to complete a preliminary assessment in the coming days. The investigators had taken exhaustive steps to track down key political and bureaucratic links of the arms dealer after examining thousands of seized documents, call logs and communication.
After discovering that Bhandari also violated the Official Secrets Act, the agencies were on the trail of a serving officer, who might have leaked top-secret defence documents to him.
“We have some definite leads about persons in the government, who were close to Bhandari and were suspected to have helped him in many ways, including providing him with classified information,” sources said.
Intelligence inputs on Bhandari reveal that he was running at least 14 companies with business interests ranging from aerospace to defence. Bhandari, sources said, is linked to Deepak Agarwal of suspected mailbox company Skyline. Agarwal was one of the promoters of shell companies that came under the scanner for donating Rs 2 crore to Arvind Kejriwal’s campaign last year.
The first company of Bhandari being probed by enforcement agencies is Offset India Solutions Private Limited, which was floated on February 13, 2008, with Bhandari as one of the directors.
The firm with its office in Delhi claims to offer offset requirements to foreign defence companies. Micromet Ati India Private Limited is also under the scanner for alleged tax evasion and round-tripping of slush funds. His other company being probed for alleged money laundering and tax evasion is Avaana Software and Services Private Limited.