The Enforcement Directorate will begin a full-fledged criminal probe into the alleged kickbacks received in the Rs3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal once prima facie violation of money laundering laws is detected.
The agency has already been conducting a probe since last year for alleged violation of forex laws in the operations of defence firms operating in India, with a specific reference to AugustaWestland too.
The ED zeroed in on the firm after it received some documents regarding the company while probing the investments and finances of businessman Abhishek Verma, who is under arrest at present.
Sources said the ED will take a call to register a case under the stringent clauses of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) once the CBI files an FIR and also take into account the outcome of its ongoing investigation under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
Any other scheduled offence, once detected, will pave way for the registration of the PMLA case, sources said.
The agency has also gathered some inputs regarding the transactions done to procure 12 VVIP service helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland in 2010.
The deal came under the scanner after the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company that is suspected of paying bribes of about Rs362 crore in India to get orders for helicopters to ferry Indian VVIPs was arrested, prompting the government to order a CBI probe.
The ED, sources said, has also approached their foreign counterparts in Italy for official records but the agency is still to get the desired help in this regard.