The prime accused in the navy war room leak case, Abhishek Verma, felt listless in Tihar jail whenever he remembered that 16 of his luxury watches worth Rs30 lakh were with the CBI. Following a raid at his South Delhi farmhouse in June 2012, Verma's 16 high-end watches, made by reputed names such as Rolex, Omega, Ulysse Nardin and Hublot Geneve, were seized by the investigating agency.
The CBI pressed graft charges against arms dealer Verma and his Romanian wife Anca Maria. It alleged that Verma accepted a $530,000 bribe from Swiss arms company Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD) to help remove its name from a blacklist in India. The defence ministry had blacklisted the firm after its name cropped up in the Ordinance Factory Scam.
Verma, who also faces cases of cheating, forgery and violation of the Official Secrets Act, moved an application in a Delhi court, seeking the release of his watches, citing poor maintenance in the agency’s custody. “The watches require regular maintenance and care, in the absence of which, they can get damaged," said Verma, currently lodged in Tihar jail.
The investigating agency opposed the release of the watches till the conclusion of its investigation, saying "the watches were purchased out of ill-gotten money from M/s Rheinmetall Air Defence".
However, Verma filed a detailed affidavit, mentioning the year in which he acquired the watches and listed their approximate value. In its July 27 order, the court took cognisance of the affidavit and ordered that all but two of the 16 watches be released on a bond of Rs20 lakh.
The court said the CBI's submission that all the watches were purchased out of ill-gotten money received from M/s Rheinmetall Air Defence was without merit.
Box: Verma’s collection of luxury watches
1) Luminor Panerai, bought in 2012
2) Franck Muller, bought in 2010
3) Frank Muller, bought in 2010
4) Calvin Klein, bought in 2009
5) Louis Vuitton, bought in 2009
6) Ulyssee Nardin, bought in 2009
7) Rolex, bought in 2009
8) Rolex, bought in 2009
9) Hublot Geneve, bought in 2008
10) Blancpaine, bought in 2008
11) Bvlgari, bought in 2008
12) Omega, bought in 2008
13) Piaget, bought in 2008
14) Omega, bought in 2008
15) Longiness, bought in 2007
16) Gianni Versace, bought in 1992