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VVIP chopper deal: Court extends Khaitan’s judicial custody

A Delhi court on Tuesday extended till November 03 the judicial custody of businessman Gautam Khaitan, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case related to the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal.

Special Judge VK Gupta sent Khaitan to 14-day judicial custody after he was produced in the court on expiry of his earlier remand.

ED prosecutor Vikas Garg sought extension of judicial custody of Khaitan submitting that the investigation in the case is still going on.

The court had yesterday dismissed the bail plea of Khaitan on the ground that investigation regarding other accused persons in the case was still in progress.

“The non-arrest of any other accused person so far shall not entitle the accused to be released on bail, when other persons have been asked to join investigation.”

“In this background release of the accused at this stage may hamper investigation and shall not be in the larger interest of the public/state. And that being so, release of accused on bail at this stage will not be proper. Accordingly, the application is dismissed,” the court said in the order which was made available today.”

Earlier, Khaitan’s counsel had sought bail contending that he was a “soft target” and influential persons, who are also accused in the case, were not yet arrested by ED.

ED prosecutors had opposed the bail plea contending that there was a likelihood of Khaitan fleeing from justice, tampering with the evidence and hampering the ongoing probe which is at a crucial stage and some persons are yet to be investigated.

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

ED was probing the case in which EUR 70 million (Rs 360 crore) were allegedly paid as kickbacks and the suspected money trail as also the proceeds of crime. ED had earlier submitted that Khaitan was on the board of Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix which was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in the chopper deal.

Khaitan was arrested by ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). ED had lodged a case in July against Khaitan, former IAF chief SP Tyagi and 19 others in the VVIP chopper deal case to probe alleged kickbacks.

ED had said Khaitan was one of the directors in Aeromatrix and he resigned from the post after the Italian police started its probe into the chopper deal.

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

He was earlier questioned by CBI in this case. ED had registered a case in this deal under the PMLA, taking cognisance of a more-than-a-year-old CBI FIR.

ED has booked SP Tyagi, his family members, European nationals Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, four firms–Italy-based Finmeccanica, UK-based AgustaWestland and Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, two companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia, a few other firms and unnamed persons in its criminal complaint.

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