Chopper deal: Khaitan remanded to five days ED custody

New Delhi: Businessman Gautam Khaitan,  arrested for graft in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, was remanded to five days custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) by a court here Tuesday after it was told that he needs to be confronted with documents received from Italy.

Metropolitan Magistrate Sunil Kumar Sharma extended Khaitan’s custody till Oct 5 after the ED told him that the accused is required to trace the proceeds of crime.

The ED’s counsel, Navin Kumar Matta, told the court that Khaitan is required to confront him with several documents received from Italy through the defence ministry to trace the proceeds of crime.

Khaitan’s counsel and senior advocate P.V. Kapur with lawyer P.K. Dubey opposed the ED plea and said that further custody is not required as he will not run away from the country due to his professional responsibilities.

The ED said that it has recovered two mobile phone and a hard disc, which has been sent to a forensic science laboratory in Bangalore and the report will come from there Oct 3. Khaitan’s custody will help them to unearth the whole conspiracy.

Khaitan, who was on the board of Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix, was arrested after the agency conducted a search of his premises Sep 22. He was arrested the next day.

The supply of 12 VVIP helicopters from British firm AgustaWestland came under scrutiny after Italian authorities alleged that a bribe had been paid by the company to clinch the deal.

India Jan 1 terminated the Rs.3,600 crore (about $770 million) deal with AgustaWestland for the purchase of 12 VVIP choppers over allegations of kickbacks having been paid to fix the deal.

The deal was inked in February 2010 for supply of the 12 helicopters to the Indian Air Force. India had paid around 45 percent of the total contract value for the choppers which were meant to ferry the president, the prime minister and other VIPs.

The ED had registered a case in this deal in July 2013 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and booked former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, foreign nationals Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, companies like AgustaWestland, its parent company Italy-based Finmeccanica, Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix as well as two companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia, a few other firms and unknown persons in its criminal complaint.

Twenty-one entities have been named by the ED in the case.

A separate case was lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation March 2013 against Tyagi and others in connection with the kickback allegations.

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