Delhi court reserves order for 19 February on Gautam Khaitan's bail plea, ED calls him 'habitual offender'
A Delhi court Friday reserved its order for 19 February on AgustaWestland accused and lawyer Gautam Khaitan's bail plea
New Delhi: A Delhi court Friday reserved its order for 19 February on AgustaWestland accused and lawyer Gautam Khaitan's bail plea in a fresh case of alleged money laundering after the ED termed him a 'habitual offender', even as he said his arrest was 'malicious'. Special judge Arvind Kumar reserved the order after the the agency submitted that the chargesheet in the case was about to be filed and if left free, Khaitan may tamper with the evidence and influence witnesses as the probe is at a crucial stage.
"The amount of laundering that is coming to light is huge and it is to be looked into. He is a habitual offender and habitual launderer. Half of country's laundered money comes through this man. Most of the laundering through Dubai and Malaysia is done by this man. "His association with Deepak Talwar has also come to light and both cases are under investigation," said ED's special public prosecutors DP Singh and NK Matta.
Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra and advocate PK Dubey, appearing for Khaitan, opposed Enforcement Director's (ED) submission saying that agency's case was a figment of its imagination. "Its a malicious and unjustified arrest. They already had full opportunity to quiz Khaitan. No purpose will be served by keeping him in further custody," the counsel said. Khaitan had earlier claimed before the court that ED was forcing him to falsely implicate someone influential in "any defence deal" which happened during the UPA regime.
His lawyer had said: "They asked me (Khaitan) to give any name involved in any defence deal (of UPA period). They asked to give any name, that they needed it within these two months. They are constantly forcing me to give name and I will be absolved. "When Michel (middleman recently extradited from Dubai) came, you (ED) said he had taken my name and I was required to be confronted. But nothing came out of that case. Now you have come up with this case."
According to ED's advocate Samvedna Verma, the present case under the PMLA was filed by the ED against Khaitan on the basis of a case filed by the Income Tax Department against him under Section 51 of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015. Khaitan was placed under arrest on 25 January by the agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The Income Tax Department had earlier carried out searches against Khaitan in this new case filed under the anti-black money law. Khaitan had been arrested by the ED and the CBI a few years ago in connection with their probe in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland case. A chargesheet was also filed against him by the two agencies and he was currently out on bail.
The ED, in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he had received 30 million euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.
The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought response of the Centre and the Enforcement Directorate on the bail plea of businessman Gautam Khaitan.
Khaitan was the first person to be arrested in September this year by ED in the chopper deal case in which CBI is also running a parallel probe.