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OP Khaitan managing partner Gautam wins Rs 10 lakh bail after 3+ months choppergate detention

A special Delhi court today granted bail to OP Khaitan & Co managing partner Gautam Khaitan accused in a money laundering case related to the AgustaWestland VIP chopper deal.

Granting bail to Khaitan, the Central Bureau of Investigation Special Judge VK Gupta directed him to furnish a personal bond of Rs 10 lakh and two sureties of the like amount.

The judge ordered Khaitan to surrender his passport, not to leave the country without prior permission of the court and not to tamper with the evidence in the case.

During arguments, Enforcement Directorate (ED) prosecutor NK Matta opposed Khaitan’s bail plea alleging that he was behind the “parking” of alleged kickbacks in the matter and the agency was conducting further probe into the matter.

Defence counsel PV Kapur and advocate PK Dubey argued that the other accused, who were allegedly the recipients of purported bribe, had not been arrested so far while Khaitan was behind bars for over three months.

Khaitan was on the board of the Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix and was arrested a day after the ED conducted a search of his premises Sep 22 last year.

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

Following these allegations, India Jan 1, 2014, terminated the Rs.3,600 crore (about $770 million) deal with AgustaWestland for the purchase of the choppers meant to ferry the president, the prime minister and other VIPs.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Nov 2014 had filed the charge-sheet naming Khaitan, his wife Ritu, Chandigarh-based firm Aeromatrix and two Italian middlemen, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke, as accused in the case and booked them for the offences under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

However, the ED had registered a case in this deal in July 2013 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and booked in its criminal complaint former Indian Air Force chief SP 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 unidentified people.

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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