India-Norway Joint Venture Firm’s Assets Seized Over Money Laundering Case

New Delhi, Aug 14 (PTI): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday said it has attached assets worth over ₹ 134 crore of an India-Norway joint venture company in connection with a money laundering case linked to an alleged Gujarat Maritime Board scam.
The properties attached include a plant, machinery, computers, land and building worth about ₹ 90,62,18,000 and bank balances to the tune of ₹ 43,75,82,000 in the name of Aatash Norcontrol Ltd (ANL).

The agency issued a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for attaching these assets worth a total of ₹ 134.38 crore.

ANL, the ED said in a statement, is a joint venture between Indian company Aatash Computers and Communications P. Ltd. and Norwegian firm Kongsberg Norcontrol IT AS.

“This company is engaged in the construction and operation of Vessel Traffic and Ports Management System (VTPMS) and it provides navigation services to vessels,” the agency said.

The money laundering case was filed by the ED after studying an FIR filed by the Gandhinagar police CID against ANL and others for “committing fraud of ₹ 134.38 crore with the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB)”.

ANL was awarded a contract by the GMB for building and operating the VTPMS for the Gulf of Khambhat in the Arabian Sea.

During the probe, the ED alleged, it was found that ANL “submitted exaggerated cost of the project to the GMB and thereby misled the GMB into fixing higher tariff rates for the navigation of vessels”.

“The VTPMS infrastructure became operational in August 2010 and thereafter, ANL started collecting the VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) fees/charges from the vessels as per the concession agreement,” it said.

By resorting to falsifying and fabricating the cost of the project, “ANL received excess payment to the tune of ₹ 134.38 crore during the concerned period, which is nothing but proceeds of crime generated by it through the commission of the scheduled offence,” the ED alleged.