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Express: Choppergate lawyer Gautam Khaitan referred a client to Mossack Fonseca in completely unrelated & quite probably legitimate matter

Panama Papers coverage drags another semi-celebrity lawyer into storm
Panama Papers coverage drags another semi-celebrity lawyer into storm

OP Khaitan & Co managing partner Gautam Khaitan - who had spent more than three months in jail during the CBI’s AgustaWestland chopper scam investigation in late 2014 - had provided a reference for a client to work with the controversial Panama-headquartered law firm Mossack Fonseca, reported the Indian Express as part of its ongoing Panama Papers coverage.

The paper reported that:

In a 2 March, 2013, letter to Waterman Trust Company Limited, registered in Isle of Man, Khaitan, lawyer, in O P Khaitan & Co. Solicitors & Advocates, said, “We hereby confirm that Mr Navin Mehra [the client] is personally known to us and has been our client for more than the last 10 years.”

This letter was stamped as received by Mossack Fonseca. As was Khaitan’s certified copy of Navin Mehra’s passport.

The client, part of a jewellery family business, denied wrongdoing to the Indian Express saying that all the investments made in foreign companies had been disclosed to tax authorities and were legal.

The Express also did not allege any wrongdoing by Khaitan, in what appeared to have been fairly routine legal work, although it noted that a company allegedly involved in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, of which Khaitan was a director and for which the CBI probed and had arrested him (later releasing him on bail), had the same office address as Khaitan’s home address.

Khaitan did not respond to the Express’s request for comment.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, was the first Indian lawyer to have been named as part of the Panama Papers coverage earlier this month, however Salve insisted the coverage was unfair, since he had paid more than his fair share of taxes and disclosed all investments.

Photo by Nico2Panama

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