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AgustaWestland chopper deal: HC notice to ED on Gautam Khaitan's bail plea

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Thursday issued notice to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a bail plea of businessman Gautam Khaitan, arrested in a money laundering case related to the AgustaWestland chopper deal.

Justice V.P. Vaish sought response from the ED and asked it to file a status report on the issue by Nov 11.

Chopper deal: HC notice to ED on Khaitan's bail plea
Representational Picture

Filing the bail plea, Khaitan said he has been fully cooperating with the investigation and his arrest by the ED is based purely on speculation, conjectures and surmises.

A court here Oct 21 dismissed Khaitan's bail plea, saying the probe regarding other accused persons in the case was still going on. He has to be in judicial custody till Nov 3, the day when his custody will expire.

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Khaitan, told the court that the likelihood of Khaitan's fleeing from justice and his tampering with evidence is missing in this case as "his entire family comprising of his aged parents, wife and two children reside in New Delhi".

Seeking bail on medical ground, Luthra said Khaitan has been suffering from various ailments and needs medical supervision.

"The petitioner (Khaitan) is suffering from severe hypertension, blood pressure, diabetes and is on regular medication for which he is being given strong antibiotics. Therefore, he requires complete medical supervision," plea said.

It also said that no purpose will be served from his custody as all the alleged materials are already in the custody of the ED and the CBI and nothing is to be recovered or discovered at his behest, and he is willing to cooperate in any manner for further probe.

The reputation of Khaitan is severely being hampered, argued Luthra.

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

The supply of 12 VVIP helicopters from British firm AgustaWestland came under scrutiny after Italian authorities alleged that the company paid a bribe to clinch the deal with India, inked in February 2010.

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

India had paid around 45 percent of the total contract value for the choppers meant to ferry the president, the prime minister and other VIPs.

The ED registered a case in this deal in July 2013 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and booked former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, foreign nationals Carlo Gerosa, Chri stian 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 unidentified people in its criminal complaint.

The ED named 21 entities in the case. The Central Bureau of Investigation lodged a separate case in March 2013 against Tyagi and others in connection with the kickback allegations.

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