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Chopper scam: Part of bribe went to Khaitan's wife, says ED

A file photo of AgustaWestland VVIP Air Force helicopter.  

The Enforcement Directorate probe into money laundering charges in the VVIP chopper deal has revealed that a significant part of the funds transferred by AgustaWestland to bribe Indian officials went to the wife of accused Gautam Khaitan through a Mauritius-based company.

Following the money trail, the agency discovered that Mr. Khaitan and two alleged middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke received € 24.06 million in IDS Tunisia from AgustaWestland Spa, of which € 3.88 million was transferred to Aeromatrix and €1.88 million to IDS Infotech in the garb of engineering contracts.

The amount that remained with IDS Tunisia, which had practically only a couple of employees but received funds without adding any value to the works generated by IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix for AgustaWestland, is believed to be the laundered money. This was done through fictitious invoices raised to companies based in Mauritius, including Interstellar Technologies, and other countries.

The ED found that IDS Tunisia had transferred a sizable chunk of the laundered money to Interstellar which was “controlled by Mr. Gautam Khaitan” through M.L. Administrators, Mauritius.

From Intersteller, two transactions worth 50,000 dollars and 1,00,060 dollars were made to the accounts of Mr. Khaitan and the third transaction of 50,000 dollars to his wife Ritu Khaitan, alleges the ED charge sheet.

The agency found that although Ms. Khaitan was not employed with her husband's firm O.P. Khaitan & Co., she had been receiving salary. “Ms. Ritu Khaitan had received Rs.78.07 lakh from April 2005 to September 2014 [the period under scrutiny]. As disclosed by a firm employee, she had taken a loan of Rs.75 lakh and another loan of Rs.3 crore from the same firm during 2005-06 without any agreement.

“Ritu Khaitan was also beneficiary to the proceeds of crime which came into O.P. Khaitan & Co...,” alleges the charge sheet.

The ED has alleged that IDS Tunisia had transferred about Rs.9.2 crore in Euros to Gautam Khaitan through O.P. Khaitan & Co. And Euromed USA. “Investigations indicated that Euromed USA is related to Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke...Gautam Khaitan has received €80,000 in November 2011 and €3,000 in December 2011 from IDS Tunisia,” the charge sheet alleges.

Besides, Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi told the ED that O.P. Khaitan & Co. Had received Rs.81 lakh and 24 lakh from the company, which was incorporated by Gautam Khaitan himself.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 5:11:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/vvip-chopper-deal-part-of-bribe-went-to-khaitans-wife-says-ed/article6643509.ece

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