Gautam Khaitan's ED custody extended by 5 days

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) A court here on Monday extended by five days the Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody of arrested lawyer Gautam Khaitan, a co-accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, in a fresh money laundering case.

He was presented before Special Judge Arvind Kumar, who allowed the ED to quiz him for another five days.

Khaitan was arrested on Friday, a week after the Income Tax Department raided his offices and various other properties in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).

The ED told the court that they have found evidence of different entries in his various accounts and that needed probing.

"Custodial interrogation of the accused is required to ascertain all known/unknown entities/accounts in which the accused has a beneficial interest and which have been used in the commission of offence of money laundering," ED told the court.

The agency said that it has to find out the exact source of tainted money and the end- use of such funds involved in the present case.

The ED also told the court that it has received details from the Income Tax Department regarding undisclosed bank accounts of the accused and other assets related to Khaitan outside India and he has been booked under the provisions of Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act.

He said a money laundering trail of over Rs. 800 crore is linked to Khaitan.

Khaitan's counsel Pramod Kumar Dubey opposed the ED plea saying, the arrest was illegal and said that this case is of "double jeopardy" as the Income Tax case is pending in a different court.

Khaitan's lawyer also told the court that his client is being pressured to give names in another defence deal being probed by the ED.

The ED said the lawyer had been "controlling" the modus operandi and was responsible for routing the money, misusing his connections and clients, including the ones inherited from his father, to launder the money through a variety of accounts in Dubai, Mauritius, Singapore, Tunisia, Switzerland, the UK and India.

Agency officials said the accounts included those of his undisclosed shell companies outside India.

ED has also found a Zambia connection of Khaitan. He is known to be close to Henry Banda, one of the three sons of former President Rupiah Banda, who is accused of abusing his authority as head of state between 2008 and 2011.

Earlier, Khaitan was arrested in September 2014 for his alleged involvement in the AgustaWestland deal.

He got bail in January 2015 and was again arrested along with Sanjeev Tyagi, another accused in the case, on December 9, 2016, by the CBI. He later secured bail.

The CBI chargesheet has described Khaitan as the brain behind the AgustaWestland deal.