AgustaWestland case: ED says Rajiv Saxena hid $45 mn in Swiss bankshttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/agustawestland-case-ed-says-rajiv-saxena-hid-45-mn-in-swiss-banks-5563779/

AgustaWestland case: ED says Rajiv Saxena hid $45 mn in Swiss banks

ED sources said Saxena would be confronted with key AgustaWestland middleman Gautam Khaitan as the latter had prompted Saxena to float companies to launder kickbacks.

AgustaWestland case: ED says Rajiv Saxena hid  mn in Swiss banks
AgustaWestland accused Rajiv Saxena is escorted by police as he leaves a court in New Delhi on Thursday. (Source: Reuters)

Enforcement Directorate investigations have found that eight Swiss bank accounts maintained by key AgustaWestland accused Rajiv Saxena, who was Wednesday deported from the UAE, received kickbacks in the chopper deal.

The agency told a Delhi court Thursday that Saxena had, in the name of his family members and companies, cumulative deposits of over $43 million and over 5 million Swiss Francs. These details were gathered by the ED following a reply to a letter rogatory sent by it in connection with the case, sources said. The court gave the ED four days custody to question Saxena.

According to the ED, two companies owned by Saxena – Matrix Group Ltd and UHY Saxena & Associates – have four bank accounts in which $12 million and Swiss Francs 65,608 are deposited. The two companies, the ED has alleged, had received AgustaWestland kickbacks through Interstellar Technologies.

Saxena is a shareholder in all three companies which received kickbacks from IDS Infotech, a company floated by lawyer and businessman Gautam Khaitan, a key middleman in the deal, to launder bribe money. Sources said Saxena would be confronted with Khaitan during questioning.

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The ED told the court that Saxena had floated multiple companies in collusion with Khaitan to route kickbacks in the deal to “various political persons, bureaucrats and Air Force officials” to influence the deal in favour of the British company.

The money in the Swiss banks is over and above the kickbacks that the ED said was laundered in a previous chargesheet against Rajiv’s wife Shivani. The chargesheet said that 12.4 million euros, received as kickbacks in the deal, were transferred to companies owned by Shivani, Rajiv and Khaitan.

Senior advocate Geeta Luthra and advocate Shivani Luthra Lohiya, appearing for Saxena urged the court Thursday that keeping in mind his medical condition, Saxena be kept in “semi-stella” room at Hotel Lalit, which is close to the agency’s office. She also submitted that the accused will bear the cost of the room.

Advocates D P Singh and N K Matta, for the ED, objected and said he will be given the best medical facilities and it is their duty to take care of his medical problem.

Singh further submitted that Saxena’s remand is required to determine the role of various accused in the case to unearth how the kickbacks were routed and laundered.

Advocate Luthra objected to the ED’s contention and said her client has been illegally arrested and extradited by the agency and remand even for a day would be illegal. The counsel also argued that the accused suffers from “sleep Apnea and hence sleep Apnea machine would be needed as the client oxygen levels go down when he sleeps”.

The court observed that the accused himself told the court that ED officials have taken care of him.

It also asked the ED to get the accused medically examined daily and to provide the best possible medical assistance, which the agency assured.

Saxena was extradited and arrested weeks after Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the helicopter deal, was extradited to New Delhi from Dubai. Michel is currently in judicial custody.

ED sources said Saxena would be confronted with key AgustaWestland middleman Gautam Khaitan as the latter had prompted Saxena to float companies to launder kickbacks. Khaitan is currently in ED custody in connection with a separate laundering case.

According to the ED, Khaitan and Saxena have known each other for years and referred clients to each other. Both are also in the business of incorporating offshore companies for their clients, ED sources said.

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The ED had, in July 2017, arrested Rajiv’s wife Shivani in connection with its money laundering probe into the deal. She was later granted bail.