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Deported from Dubai, Saxena and Deepak Talwar were arrested by the Enforcement Directorate at the Delhi airport in the wee hours of Thursday

The Patiala House Court, on Thursday (January 31), granted the Enforcement Directorate four days custody of Dubai-based businessman Rajeev Saxena to interrogate him over his alleged role in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case.

Saxena, along with corporate aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar had been deported to India from Dubai and were arrested by the ED upon their arrival at the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi at around 1.30 am on Thursday. The ED has booked Saxena and Talwar under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Though the ED had pressed for at least eight days custodial interrogation of Saxena, the court has only allowed the agency four days as of now. The court also allowed Saxena’s counsels, led by senior advocate Geeta Luthra, to meet him for an hour in the morning and for 30 minutes in the evening during the period of his police custody. The ED has also been directed to provide necessary medical assistance to Saxena.

ED sources claim Saxena is wanted in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers money laundering case and while Talwar is under the scanner for allegedly misusing over Rs 90 crore taken through the foreign funding route.

A co-accused and alleged middleman in the VVIP chopper scam case, British national Christian James Michel was also extradited from Dubai to India in December last year and is currently in judicial custody.

Saxena’s lawyers alleged that no extradition proceedings were started against him in the UAE and he was not allowed to access his family or lawyers while being sent to India.

Talwar has been charged with criminal conspiracy, forgery and under various sections of the FCRA for allegedly diverting Rs 90.72 crore worth of foreign funds meant for ambulances and other articles received by his NGO from Europe’s leading missile manufacturing company. His alleged role in an aviation deal from the UPA government era is also said to be under the scanner.

Talwar has been booked by the ED and the CBI in criminal cases of corruption. The Income Tax Department too has charged him with tax evasion.

The ED had summoned Rajeev Saxena, a resident of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, multiple times in the case but he never appeared.

The agency has charged him with being “in collusion” with Gautam Khaitan, another accused in the AgustaWestland choppers purchase case, for routing the purported kick backs of the deal even as it is understood that Michel had links with him.

The agency had arrested his wife Shivani Saxena from the Chennai airport in July, 2017. She is now out on bail.

The ED had alleged that Rajeev, his wife and their two Dubai-based firms — Ms UHY Saxena, Dubai and Ms Matrix Holdings — routed “the proceeds of crime and further layered and integrated in buying the immovable properties/shares among others”.

The ED had said that its probe found that “Agusta Westland International Ltd, UK paid an amount of Euro 58 million as kickbacks through Gordian Services Sarl, Tunisia and IDS Sarl, Tunisia.

“These companies further siphoned off the said money/ proceeds of crime in the name of consultancy contracts to Interstellar Technologies Ltd, Mauritius, and others which were further transferred to UHY Saxena, Dubai and Matrix Holdings Ltd. Dubai and others,” the ED had charged.

The ED had said Rajeev is “beneficial owner” of Interstellar Technologies Ltd and both his companies received proceeds of crime in their respective Dubai bank accounts from this firm.

It had said Rajeev Saxena and his wife allegedly remitted/ transferred a “huge amount of money” through their Dubai-based companies to various other accounts.

The ED had named Rajeev Saxena in its charge sheet filed in this case and had got issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

On January 1, 2014, India 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 to the tune of Rs 423 crore paid by the firm for securing the deal.

—India Legal Bureau, with inputs from PTI

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