VVIP chopper case: Accused Rajiv Saxena remanded to 4-day ED custodyhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/rajiv-saxena-accused-in-3600-crore-agusta-westland-vvip-choppercase-produced-before-delhi-court-5563038/

VVIP chopper case: Accused Rajiv Saxena remanded to 4-day ED custody

Saxena and lobbyist Deepak Talwar, wanted by the ED and the CBI in a case of allegedly misusing over Rs 90 crore taken through the foreign funding route, were brought in a special plane from Dubai to Delhi around 1:30 AM Wednesday. The two have been placed under arrest by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Rajiv Saxena, accused in 3600 crore Agusta-Westland case, produced before Delhi court
Rajiv Saxena was deported Wednesday night (File Photo)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Thursday told a Delhi court that businessman Rajiv Saxena, accused in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland deal, had floated multiple companies in connivance with accused Gautam 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.

Taking note of which, Special Judge Arvind Kumar allowed the ED to interrogate Saxena for four days in their custody. He will be produced before the court on Monday.

Senior advocate Geeta Luthra and advocate Shivani Luthra Lohiya, appearing for Saxena, however, urged the court that keeping in mind his medical condition, her client be kept in “semi-Stella” room at Hotel Lalit, which is apparently 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, who were appearing for the ED, however, objected to it and said that he will given best medical facilities and it is their duty to take care of his medical problem.

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Singh further submitted that Saxena’s remand is required to determine the role of various accused persons in the commission of the offence of money laundering, the money trail, payment of kickbacks and to unearth how the kickbacks were routed and laundered.

Advocate Luthra objected to the ED’s contention and said that her client has been illegally arrested and extradited by the agency and the remand even for a day would be illegal.

The counsel also argued that the accused is having “sleep Apenia and hence sleep Apenia machine would be needed as his oxygen levels go down when he sleeps”.

The court observed that the accused himself told the court that the ED officials have taken care of him. It also asked the ED to get the accused medically examined daily and to provide best possible medical assistance considering the medical condition of the accused.

On which, the ED’s official also assured the court that they will be providing necessary medical care to the accused and shall also be permitting him necessary medicies Apneia machine.

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

According to ED, Khaitan and Saxena have had close relations for several years and used to refer clients to each other. Both are also in the business of incorporating offshore companies for their clients, ED sources said.

ED had in July 2017 arrested Rajiv’s wife Shivani in connection with its money laundering probe into the deal. The prosecution complaint (equivalent to a chargesheet) filed by ED against Shivani says that Shivani and her husband Rajiv are partners and directors in Dubai-based companies UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings Ltd, through which “proceeds of crime were routed” and used in buying immovable properties and shares.

The two Dubai-based companies received the proceeds of crime in their respective Dubai bank accounts from a Mauritius-based company, Interstellar Technologies Ltd, which was one of the many companies floated to launder kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland deal, the agency said.

“Money was moved through IDS Tunisia to Intersteller Technologies and further to the companies owned by the Saxenas. These companies then diverted the funds to purchase immovable properties abroad and to purchase shares in foreign companies,” ED has alleged in its chargesheet.

The chargesheet has said that Euro 12.4 million received as kickbacks in the deal were transferred to companies owned by Shivani, Rajiv and Khaitan. The chargesheet also says Rajiv was a shareholder in Intersteller Technologies Mauritius. Rajiv also had the power of attorney of the company in Dubai.

According to the chargesheet, the Saxenas and their company UHY Saxena had close relations with lawyer Gautam Khaitan, a key accused in the case who floated companies such as IDS Infotech and M/S Aeromatrix to launder kickbacks. The chargesheet says UHY Saxena and Khaitan’s company OP Khaitan and Co. used to refer clients to each other.

Shivani Saxena was arrested by ED from Chennai on July 21, 2017. The chargesheet says that during interrogation she told ED that her role in UHY Saxena “was to set up companies (offshore/onshore) in Free Zones and they had established approximately 200 companies for their clients in Dubai Free Zone and we have international clients in our business”.

According to the chargesheet, one of the kickback laundering companies, IDS Tunisia, started receibving monthly payments of Euro 5.1 lakh from AgustaWestland from June 2009 by “raising increased/inflated invoices for the work actually done by IDS Infotech Chandigarh and Aeromatrix Info Solutions in the shape of FDI, by transferring it firstly into the the account of Intersteller Technologies, Mauritius and then to Infotech Design System Ltd, Mauritius, as both these companies were being controlled by ML Administrators …which was in constant touch with Gautam Khaitan and Rajiv Saxena and was registered agent for many companies under their control in Mauritius.”

The chargesheet says that during questioning Shivani expressed ignorance about a large number of transactions and said that her husband Rajiv alone knew about it. ED will hope Rajiv’s deportation will throw light on the missing links.

The first chargesheet in the case was filed in November 2014 against Gautam Khaitan, his wife Ritu, Aeromatrix and two alleged Italian middlemen Guido Ralph Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. The chargesheet disclosed that the three alleged middlemen managed to make inroads into the Indian Air Force to influence and subvert the stand of the air force regarding reducing the service ceiling of helicopters from 6,000-metres to 4,500 metres in 2005 after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply a dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties.

ED alleged that the UK-based AgustaWestland International Ltd paid 58 million euros as kickbacks through Tunisia-based Gordian Services Sarl and IDS Sarl.

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These companies siphoned off the money in the name of consultancy contracts to Interstellar Technologies Ltd and others, and these funds were further transferred to UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings Ltd and others, the ED said.