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SC notice to CBI on Quattrocchi account
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 12 
The Supreme Court today issued notice to the CBI on a petition seeking direction to the investigating agency to take steps to retrieve the Rs 20 crore amount from Italian businessman Otavio Quattrocchi, allegedly linked to the Bofors gun deal payment and withdrawn by him from a London bank last year.

The Interpol had informed the CBI that Quattrocchi had withdrawn the money from the bank on January 16, 2006, a petition filed by former Uttar Pradesh standing counsel in the Supreme Court, Ajay Agrawal.

Placing on record the sequence of events, he said the bank account of Quattrocchi, which was frozen at the instance of CBI, was made operational only after Additional Solicitor General B Dutta, had conveyed to the Crown Prosecution in London that the de-freezing of the account would have no bearing in investigation against the Italian businessman in the case.

This was done despite the Supreme Court issuing an order on January 16 itself asking the CBI to maintain status quo regarding the frozen bank account. A Special CBI Court in the capital had frozen the account by an order issued in July 2003 pending investigation against Quattrocchi on the CBIs own request, the apex court was informed.

Taking note of the sequence of events, a Bench of Mr Justice C K Thakker and Mr Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta, directed the CBI to submit a reply in the form of an affidavit within four weeks.

The Interpol had communicated to the CBI on January 19, 2006 that Quattrocchi was quick enough to withdraw the amount from the bank within four days of a London court lifting the freeze order on January 11 following the communication of Mr B. Dutta.

The court had earlier accepted a petition of Ajay Agrawal against the Delhi High Court judgment discharging three Hinduja brothers in the Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case after the CBIs request to file an appeal was not allegedly cleared by the Law Ministry.

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