The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has “frozen” a helicopter, owned by a Bangkok company and parked in Chennai, as part of treaty assistance to the US where a court has issued a warrant for its “arrest”, officials said on Friday.
The Bell 214 chopper is in the name of Hameed Ibrahim and Abdullah of Marilog Avion Services Co Ltd, Bangkok, and kept at J Matadee free trade warehouse zone (FTWZ) in Chennai, it said.
An order has been issued under section the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to the custodian of the premises, “restraining” further movement of the helicopter and its spare parts from FTWZ.
The ED action came on a request of the US Department of Homeland Security.
“The US Department of Justice has made a request for assistance in executing the warrant for “arrest in rem” on the helicopter issued by the district court of Columbia… The ED action is in accordance with the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) entered with the USA,” the federal probe agency said in a statement.
The helicopter, it said, has been imported by Hameed Ibrahim and Abdullah of Marilog Avion Services Co Ltd, Bangkok from AAR Corporation, USA, and it was shipped to India through Thailand in 2019 and stored on the premises of the Chennai-based company’s free trade warehouse zone (FTWZ).
The ED previously carried out raids at various premises, including the Chennai FTWZ and residences of the directors of Marilog Avion Services Pvt Ltd, the importer of the helicopter.
“It is found that the helicopter was kept at a warehouse on a monthly rental basis. During the searches, the helicopter has been found in dismantled condition and its rotor blade, tail boom, engine, rotor hub, and other parts were seen detached and kept in a separate package,” it said.