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Court postpones Gautam Khaitan chargesheet hearing yet again, to 15 December

A special court today fixed Dec 15 for considering the charge-sheet filed against OP Khaitan & Co managing partner Gautam Khaitan and others, including two Italians, in a money-laundering case related to the AgustaWestland VIP chopper deal.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge VK Gupta listed for Dec 15 the matter for considering the charge-sheet and said he needs more time to read the relevant file.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) 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.

The agency has booked them for the offences under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Khaitan is presently lodged in Tihar Jail in judicial custody. On the board of Aeromatrix, he was arrested by the ED a day after the agency conducted a search of his premises Sep 22.

The 12 helicopter deal with 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 following the allegations.

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 Enforcement Directorate registered a case in this deal in July 2013 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and booked former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi, and foreign nationals Gerosa, Christian Michel and Haschke in its criminal complaint.

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, and a few other firms and unidentified people were also named.

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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