Embraer deal kickbacks: CBI arrests lawyer Gautam Khaitan

Updated on Sep 02, 2022 09:21 AM IST

Khaitan, who was earlier charged for allegedly routing money received from the Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland in a 2012 chopper deal scam, was arrested in the Embraer case on August 25

India signed a deal with Brazilian firm Embraer for three fully modified EMB-145 aircraft for Airborne Early Warning and Control project during the previous United Progressive Alliance government. (HT Photo)
India signed a deal with Brazilian firm Embraer for three fully modified EMB-145 aircraft for Airborne Early Warning and Control project during the previous United Progressive Alliance government. (HT Photo)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested lawyer Gautam Khaitan for allegedly receiving $5.6 million (around 44 crore according to the latest rates) kickbacks in the $210 million Embraer aircraft deal in 2008, officials familiar with the matter said and added he is in judicial custody. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a charge sheet in the matter in December 2020.

Khaitan, who was earlier charged for allegedly routing money received from the Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland in the 2012 chopper deal scam, was arrested in the Embraer case on August 25.

India signed a deal with Brazilian firm Embraer for three fully modified EMB-145 aircraft for Airborne Early Warning and Control project during the previous United Progressive Alliance government.

The CBI registered a case in October 2016 against unknown officials of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Embraer, Vipin Khanna, and unknown persons in the matter. ED later initiated its money laundering probe in the case.

Khanna allegedly received $5.6 million as kickbacks from the firm to influence the ministry of defence and DRDO officials for the contract to supply the aircraft. According to details HT has accessed, Embraer signed an agreement with Khanna’s Cleveden Limited in 2005 for his services at a commission of 9%.

“This agreement was kept in a safe box in London. Three years later, Embraer signed a contract with IAF [Indian Air Force in July 2008] for the aircraft... The next day Khanna contacted Embraer and demanded his commission,” said an officer, who did not want to be named.

In November 2009, Embraer executed an agency agreement with a shell company named Inderdev Aviation Services registered in Singapore to make payments to Khanna through wholly owned subsidy ECC Investment Switzerland AG.

“On the same day, Interdev delivered three invoices to ECC, each for $1.92 million. Embraer, through ECC, remitted these three payments to Interdev in January and February 2010,” said the officer.

A second officer said Khaitan also allegedly involved a Basmati rice exporting firm for bringing a certain amount of money to India in the Embraer deal.

HT first in November 2019 reported Khaitan was the common link in the Embraer deal and AgustaWestland scandal. CBI and the ED are investigating both cases.

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