In what is the first arrest made in connection with Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal case, businessman Gautam Khaitan was remanded in seven-day Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody by a Delhi court.
Special public prosecutor Naveen Kumar Matta, arguing for custody remand, said there is need to ascertain the concealment of proceeds of the crime — the alleged bribe money received from Italy.
“Custodial interrogation is required to identify the other beneficiaries of proceeds of crime, to ascertain the trail of money laundered as bribe and to identify the properties acquired from proceeds of crime,” the special prosecutor said in court. He also argued that custody remand was required to prevent the evidence of the offence from being tampered with and disappearing.
However, defence counsel Sidharth Luthra vehemently objected on the grounds that the alleged offence is regarding transactions in 2010 and the 2013 amendment to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act is not applicable on the said transaction.
The court has directed the Investigation Officer that the accused be examined after every 24 hours at a government hospital and to allow the family member to meet for 10 minutes daily during the custody.
Agreeing with the ED plea, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal said, “In the view of the above discussion, the custody remand of the accused is necessary for just and fair investigation of the matter. Accused Gautam Khaitan is remanded for seven days.”
The ED, which has registered a report on the basis of the CBI FIR, said documents received from the Ministry of Defence allegedly reveal that Khaitan is the “key person” who knowingly assisted money laundering related to the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland.
Khaitan was on the board of Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix which was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in the chopper deal.