New Delhi: The judicial custody of businessman Gautam Khaitan was on Monday extended till November 14 after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a Delhi court that the probe in a money laundering case related to the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal was at a crucial stage.
Special Judge VK Gupta sent Khaitan to 11 days judicial remand as ED submitted that it is still collecting evidence in the case and the probe is at a crucial stage.
The court granted the plea of ED prosecutor Vikas Garg seeking extension of Khaitan's judicial custody after he was produced before it on expiry of his earlier remand.
Garg submitted that the agency was in the process of recording statements of some of the accused in the case.
He said that ED has written to the Ministry of Defence and other ministries seeking information with regard to the case and the replies were still awaited.
"The investigation is a crucial stage and it would not be proper to let the accused out," Garg contended.
The court had earlier dismissed Khaitan's bail plea on the ground that investigation regarding other accused persons was still in progress.
Earlier, Khaitan's counsel had argued that he was a "soft target" and "influential persons", who were also accused in the case, had not yet been arrested by ED.
The agency had alleged that Khaitan was "actively involved" in the illegal transactions relating to proceeds of crime and he was one of the beneficiaries of the entire deal.
ED is probing the case in which EUR 70 million (Rs 360 crore) were allegedly paid as kickbacks and the suspected money trail as also the proceeds of crime.
The agency had earlier submitted that Khaitan was on the board of Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix which was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in the chopper deal.
Khaitan was arrested by ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). ED had lodged a case in July against Khaitan, former IAF chief S P Tyagi and 19 others in the VVIP chopper deal case to probe alleged kickbacks. ED had said Khaitan had resigned as one of the directors in Aeromatrix after the Italian police started its probe in the chopper deal.
It had said a reference to Khaitan was also reportedly made in Italian prosecutor's report filed in a court there.
He was earlier questioned by CBI in this case. ED had registered a case in this deal under the PMLA, taking cognisance of a more than a year-old CBI FIR.
ED has booked S P Tyagi, some of his family members, European nationals Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, four firms--Italy-based Finmeccanica, UK-based AgustaWestland and Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, two companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia, a few other firms and unnamed persons in its criminal complaint.
The supply of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland came under the scanner after the Italian authorities had alleged that bribes was paid by the company to clinch the deal.