Lawyer Gautam Khaitan, an accused in the AgustaWestland (AW) case, reportedly admitted to the CBI on Wednesday that he was instrumental in setting up a Tunisian front used to pay bribes in India.
The agency, however, suspects his link to five other firms featuring in the bribe’s money trail.
Khaitan was formerly a legal adviser to accused Indian firm IDS Infotech. Confirming this, a CBI source said, “Gautam Khaitan has admitted that he had played a key role in setting up a Tunisia-based shell firm, IDS Tunisia. The firm was named as an accused in the CBI FIR of March 2013 for its role in transmitting bribe funds sent to India by the choppers’ UK-based manufacturer AW Limited and its parent firm Finmeccanica.”
The source said, “The probe showed that IDS Tunisia was used to send funds to two accused Indian firms — Aeromatrix Info and IDS Info — in the garb of payments against engineering contracts.”
AW Limited bagged the deal for the supply of 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers after allegedly paying Rs 360 crore in bribes in India.
Apart from the Tunisian shell firm, the CBI probe showed that Khaitan was allegedly linked to five other firms — Mauritius-based Interstellar Technologies Ltd, SRC International Limited, India Realty (Mauritius) Ltd, HBC (Mauritius) Ltd and New Telfair Investments Ltd — that were featured in the international money trail.
From Interstellar, some of the funds were also routed via Seychelles’s Redline Consultants Ltd and Singapore’s Windsor Group Holdings Ltd, said the source. The probe showed that IDS Tunisia allegedly raised bills for engineering contracts amounting to 24.27 million euros on AW Ltd, but paid only around six million euros to the two Indian firms and funnelled the rest to India for bribes.
The CBI will question air vice marshal (retd) NV Tyagi on Thursday. The ED, which questioned Emaar MGF Group’s head Shravan Gupta on Wednesday, will question ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi on Thursday.