VVIP chopper scam: Delhi court grants bail to businessman in money laundering case

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New Delhi, Apr 5 (PTI) A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to businessman Anoop Kumar Gupta in connection with a money laundering case related to the alleged Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper scam.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar granted the relief to the accused, noting that the investigation will take time to complete and he has been in custody since January 29, 2021.

As per Enforcement Directorate's allegations, the accused, through his companies, had committed the offence of money laundering in proceeds of crime amounting USD 24,624,298.

“The accused is admitted to bail on his furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs 5 lakh with two sureties of the like amount with further conditions that the accused shall not tamper with evidence and shall not try to contact or influence the witnesses..,” the court said.

It further directed Gupta to join investigation as and when called by the investigating officer, and not to leave India without the permission of the court.

The court noted that the supplementary complaint against Gupta had already been filed.

The court noted that the ED had called the accused to join investigation and accused has joined investigation since December 16, 2018 on different dates. It further observed that the documents had already been recovered and the statements of witnesses had already been filed before the court with charge sheets and supplementary charge sheets in the case. “It is not the case of ED that further recovery is to be made from the accused. Even otherwise if the accused, at any stage, is required for investigation, he can be called to join investigation. “The correctness or otherwise of the allegations as to whether the accused has received and laundered the said money, can only be looked into during the course of trial,” the court said.

It further observed that the several other co-accused, having similar or greater role than the present one, had already been enlarged on bail. “Some of the co-accused have not been arrested by ED at all, and complaint (ED's equivalent to a charge sheet) and supplementary complaints have been filed against these accused persons without arrest,” it said, noting that Gupta was not an accused in the CBI case registered in relation to the related matter. ED's contention that the accused may tamper with the evidence was rejected by the court, which noted that the present case was based mainly on documentary evidence and banking transactions and the documents had already been seized by the ED. The court noted that the accused was 62 years of age and had roots in society, therefore, ED's contention he may abscond did not appear to have much substance. The court also noted that the accused was suffering from a number of diseases and is under treatment. The ED claimed that Gupta, the director of KRBL Limited that manufactures India Gate basmati rice, was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the AgustaWestland VVIP choppers case, after he allegedly did not cooperate in the ongoing probe.

The ED slapped money laundering charges in the case following allegations of irregularities in the now-cancelled deal to purchase of 12 VVIP choppers from Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland. The deal was scrapped by India in 2014.

It was submitted by the ED that IDS Tunisia has received proceeds of crime to the tune of Euro 24.37 million from Agusta Westland and the proceeds of crime were further transferred to Interstellar Technologies Limited, Mauritius, and part of the proceeds received in RAKGT (Rawasi Al Khaleej General Trading LLC, Dubai) were further transferred to KRBL Limited. Gupta was joint Managing Director of KRBL Limited. PTI UK SA