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VVIP chopper deal: Gautam Khaitan’s bail plea dismissed

In this September 23, 2014 photo, Gautam Khaitan leaves after being produced in Patiala House court in New Delhi in connection with the VVIP chopper deal case.

In this September 23, 2014 photo, Gautam Khaitan leaves after being produced in Patiala House court in New Delhi in connection with the VVIP chopper deal case.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed the bail plea of businessman Gautam Khaitan, who was arrested in a money laundering case in connection with the VVIP chopper deal.

Justice V.P. Vaish, who declined the relief sought by Mr. Khaitan, however, granted him opportunity to file fresh bail application after the investigation in the case is completed.

“The application is dismissed. Respondent (the Enforcement Directorate) is directed to complete the investigation as soon as possible. After the investigation in the case is completed, the petitioner can file fresh bail application,” the court said.

Mr. Khaitan, who is in judicial custody since September 23, 2014 had moved the High Court seeking bail after a trial court on October 20 dismissed his plea, saying the investigation in the case is at a “crucial stage”.

On the last date of hearing, Mr. Khaitan’s counsel had sought bail for him contending that influential persons, who were also accused in the case, had not yet been arrested by the ED.

Mr. Khaitan was arrested by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED had lodged a case in July against Mr. Khaitan, former Indian Air Force Chief S.P. Tyagi and 19 others in the VVIP chopper deal case to probe alleged kickbacks.

Earlier, the ED and Centre had opposed Mr. Khaitan’s bail plea on the ground that there was a likelihood of the businessman fleeing from justice, tampering with evidence and hampering the ongoing probe which is at a crucial stage.

The ED had informed the court that there is “damning evidence against him (Mr. Khaitan). He is a kingpin”.

The ED had also alleged that Mr. Khaitan was “actively involved” in the illegal transactions relating to proceeds of crime and he was one of the beneficiaries of the entire deal.

The agency had said that the recent judgement of an Italian court in the case acquitting former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and ex-AgustaWestland head Bruno Spagnolini of corruption charges does not have any bearing here in the probe into a money laundering matter.

The Italian court had on October 9 acquitted Mr. Orsi and Mr. Spagnolini of graft charges in the chopper deal with India.

They, however, were sentenced to a two-year jail term on lesser charges of falsification of invoices.

The agency had submitted that Mr. Khaitan was one of the directors in Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix, which was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in VVIP helicopters deal and he resigned from the post after the Italian police started its probe.

According to the CBI and other agencies, they had detected that funds for the particular deal were allegedly routed through this firm and few others.

The ED had said a reference to Mr. Khaitan was also reportedly made in Italian prosecutor’s report filed in a court there.

The CBI had earlier questioned him in this case. The ED had registered a case in this deal under the PMLA, nearly a year after the CBI filed its case.

The ED has booked Mr. Tyagi, his family members, European nationals Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, six companies— U.K.-based AgustaWestland, Italy-based Finmeccanica and Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix and one each based in Mauritius and Tunisia, and unknown persons in its criminal complaint.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 7:47:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/vvip-chopper-deal-gautam-khaitans-bail-plea-dismissed/article6658296.ece

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