The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Monday arrested the director of two Dubai-based firms in connection with its probe into alleged irregularities in the multi-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. Shivani Saxena, director of UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings, was arrested from Chennai under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and produced in a special court which remanded her in custody for four days.
The ED claimed that the companies were allegedly involved in movement of bribe money paid to government officials through middleman Christian Michel. In January 2014, India scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland for supply of AW-101 choppers following allegations of kickbacks and involvement of middlemen.
In a statement, the ED said: “Smt Shivani Saxena, wife of Rajeev Shamsher Bahadur Saxena, resident of Palm Jumeira, Dubai has been arrested in the AgustaWestland helicopter scam. She is an active director of M/s UHY Saxena, Dubai & M/s Matrix Holdings, through which Proceeds of Crime have been routed and further layered and integrated in buying the immovable properties/shares etc.”
Shivani’s husband Rajeev, the ED claimed, was the “beneficial owner” of Interstellar Technologies Ltd, Mauritius. The company was allegedly one of the prime movers of bribe money across borders in the over Rs 3,600-crore deal. The ED said UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings, where Shivani and Rajeev are partners and directors, received money from Interstellar Technologies in Dubai.
“It was also revealed that Smt Shivani Saxena and Sh Rajiv Saxena have remitted/transferred huge amount of money through their companies at Dubai to various other accounts,” the ED statement said.
According to the ED, AgustaWestland paid euro 58 million in kickbacks to swing the VVIP chopper deal. This money, the agency said, was paid as contracts for offset work to companies such as Gordian Services Sarl, Tunisia and IDS Sarl, Tunisia. These companies further siphoned the bribe money in the name of consultancy contracts to Interstellar Technologies, Mauritius among others.
The ED claimed Interstellar, in turn, transferred the money to UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings among other companies. Last year, the ED sought details from the UAE about companies it found had dealings with Christian Michel.