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Arrested Agusta accused Rajiv Saxena to be produced in court today

Rajiv Saxena, the second accused in the case to be flown to India from overseas in less than two months, will be produced before a court around 2pm today.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2019 12:21 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
rajiv saxena,agustawestland case,vvip chopper deal
Alleged accused in the Agusta Westland VVIP chopper case Rajiv Saxena was extradited from the UAE late on Wednesday night.

An alleged accused in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal - Rajiv Saxena - was extradited from the United Arab Emirates and brought back to India late on Wednesday evening.

A corporate lobbyist, Deepak Talwar, who is wanted in a money laundering case was also extradited from Dubai and brought back on the same flight as Saxena.

Both Saxena and Deepak Talwar were arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on their arrival and are being questioned at separate locations.

Rajiv Saxena, the second accused in the case to be flown to India from overseas in less than two months, will be produced before a court around 2pm today.

In December, British national Christian James Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland deal, was extradited to India from Dubai. Michel is now in judicial custody and was among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the ED and the CBI. The middlemen were being probed for allegedly organising bribes in exchange for a 2007 contract for the purchase of 12 luxury VVIP helicopters for use by top leaders, including the President, Prime Minister and former prime ministers

The deal was cancelled on January 1, 2014 over the allegations of wrongdoing.

Soon after his arrival from Dubai, Saxena was handed over to Enforcement Directorate officials.

Saxena’s lawyers said that he had been summoned to a local police station in Dubai around 9am on Wednesday. When his family enquired with the police, they were initially kept in the dark and later informed that he was being taken to India.

“From Terminal 2 of Dubai airport, Saxena boarded a chartered aircraft,” said one of his lawyers.

A non-bailable warrant was issued against Saxena in a case registered with the Delhi high court. His lawyers said the warrant had already been challenged and alleged that the way he was brought to India was illegal.

“He is a fourth-stage cancer patient and anything can happen to him,” said one his lawyers.

The ED, which investigates foreign exchange rule violations and money laundering, had summoned Saxena, a resident of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, multiple times in the case. In 2017, the ED had arrested Shivani Saxena, Rajiv Saxena’s wife, from the Chennai airport. She is now out on bail.

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

In September 2017, the CBI filed a chargesheet against former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi and eight other individuals in connection with wrongdoing in the AugustaWestland deal. Three companies - Finmeccanica of Italy, its UK-based subsidiary AgustaWestland, and Mohali-based IDS Infotech - were also named in the chargesheet.

Deepak Talwar, who was also brought to India on the same aircraft as Rajiv Saxena, is named as a suspect in a separate ED case. Talwar is accused of misusing his NGO - Advantage India - to get bribes.

The home ministry had forwarded the Advantage India matter to the CBI in 2017 and the CBI registered a case. The CBI had booked Talwar, the NGO and four others, on charges of criminal conspiracy, making false statements, forgery for the purpose of cheating and using a forged document as genuine. Following the CBI case, the ED too begun its investigation in the money laundering case. Talwar is also suspected in UPA-era aviation deals being probed by the CBI and ED.

Talwar is accused of having misused the funds donated by leading missile manufacturer MBDA and aviation major Airbus to his NGO Advantage India for personal travel.

First Published: Jan 31, 2019 11:13 IST