AgustaWestland Case: Rajeev Saxena Sent To Four-Day Enforcement Directorate Custody
AgustaWestland helicopters, the AW169, bottom, the AW139, center and the AW189, top, manufactured by Agusta Westland (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)  

AgustaWestland Case: Rajeev Saxena Sent To Four-Day Enforcement Directorate Custody

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A Delhi court on Thursday allowed custodial interrogation of Rajeev Saxena, a Dubai-based businessman wanted in the VVIP chopper case, by the Enforcement Directorate which alleged that he along with another accused provided global corporate structure to launder money.

Deported from Dubai, Saxena arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport early this morning and was taken into custody by the directorate which produced him in the forenoon before Special Judge Arvind Kumar.

The probe agency sought an eight-day custody of Saxena but the judge provided only four days to interrogate him in connection with the scam. An alleged middleman in the deal, Christian James Michel who is a British national, was also brought from Dubai last month. Michel is currently in Tihar jail.

The agency alleged that in connivance with another accused Gautam Khaitan, a Delhi based lawyer, Saxena was involved in providing a global corporate structure for laundering illegal proceeds of the crime for payment to various political persons, bureaucrats and air force officials to influence the contract for supply of 12 VVIP helicopters in favour of AgustaWestland.

The Central Bureau of Investigation and the directorate have registered cases in the VVIP chopper case in which former Air Force chief SP Tyagi is one of the accused.

While granting the custody of Saxena, the judge noted: "ED is seeking police custody remand of eight days as the accused need to be confronted with voluminous documents received through LRs to the other accused persons and witnesses to unearth the larger conspiracy and money trial.Keeping in view the facts and and circumstances, submissions made by the parties, I deem it fit to grant four days remand of the accused. Accordingly, the accused is remanded to four days custody."

During the hearing, advocates DP Singh and NK Matta, appearing for the directorate, said that proceeds of crime after being received in the accounts of Interstellar was laundered in various companies in different countries and the company is owned by Saxena.

It said that the police custody remand of accused was required to determine the role of various accused persons in the commission of the offence of money laundering, money trail, payment of kickbacks etc to unearth the whole conspiracy.

The directorate also said that the accused needs to be confronted with number of documents received through letters rogatory.

Also read: AgustaWestland Scam: Delhi Court Sends Christian Michel To Judicial Custody

The submission was vehemently opposed by senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Saxena, who said that his client has been illegally arrested and extradited by the directorate.

The lawyer said a complaint case has already been filed and there is no provision of filing supplementary complaint and therefore no purpose will be served by granting remand of the accused.

Referring to his medical condition, Saxena's lawyer said the accused was ailing seriously.

The court also directed the directorate to get the accused medically examined daily and will provide best possible medical assistance considering the medical condition of the accused. Accused be kept in comfortable and convenient place considering his condition.

Saxena was picked up by Dubai authorities early Wednesday in connection with the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers money laundering case and deported to India in the evening.

Saxena, a director of two Dubai-based firms UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings was residing in Palm Jumeriah, Dubai and has been living in the UAE for last 26 years.

Maintaining that AgustaWestland had paid 58 million euros as kickbacks through two Tunisia-based firms, the directorate's advocate Samvedna Verma alleged that "these companies further siphoned off the said money in the name of consultancy contracts to M/s Interstellar Technologies Limited, Mauritius and others which were further transferred to M/s UHY Saxena and M/s Matrix Holdings Ltd, Dubai and others".

Saxena is one of the accused named in the charge sheet filed by the directorate. Michel, former AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica directors Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, Tyagi and Saxena's wife Shivani were also named by the agency.

Also read: AgustaWestland Case: Christian Michel Sent To Five-Day CBI Custody 

It was alleged by the probe agency that the two Dubai-based firms were the entities "through which the proceeds of crime have been routed and further layered and integrated in buying the immovable properties/shares, among others" in this case.

"Saxena has transferred proceeds of crime from M/s Interstellar to his Dubai based companies M/s UHY Saxena and M/s Matrix Holdings Ltd," the directorate said in its chargesheet.

The agency claimed its probe had found that AgustaWestland, United Kingdom, had "paid an amount of 58 million euros as kickbacks" through two Tunisia-based firms.

On Jan. 1, 2014, India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks of Rs 423 crore paid by it to secure the deal.

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