VVIP chopper scam: Witness in money-laundering case moves HC to quash LOC against him

New Delhi, Dec 4 (PTI) The Delhi High Court sought the Centre's stand on Wednesday on a plea by one of the witnesses in a money-laundering case connected to the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, seeking setting aside of a look-out circular (LOC) issued against him.

Justice Suresh Kait issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), asking them to file their replies to the petition, which has claimed that the LOC was issued even though the petitioner had joined the probe.

The petitioner, Jamil Saidi, has contended that he is not even an accused in the case, he has appeared before the ED on several occasions and answered all queries put to him by the agency.

The MHA, represented by the Centre's standing counsel, Ajay Digpaul, accepted the notice and said a reply would be filed before the next date of hearing.

Saidi, in his petition, has contended that the LOC was issued without any basis and only to harass and embarrass him.

He has also alleged that on some occasions, when he had sought exemption from appearance before the ED on medical grounds or to bring his minor children back from London, his requests received no response from the agency and as a result, he had to appear before it.

The petition has claimed that the few times Saidi did not appear before the agency were when he was undergoing medical treatment.

He has also sought setting aside of a letter issued by the ED, rejecting his request to the agency to withdraw the LOC against him in the case.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in the Rs 3,600-crore deal to purchase 12 VVIP choppers from Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary, AgustaWestland.

The deal was scrapped by the BJP-led NDA government in 2014 over an alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks for securing it.

A corruption case and a money-laundering case have been initiated by the CBI and the ED in connection with the scam. PTI HMP SKV RC