VVIP chopper scam: HC grants bail to woman director of Dubai-based firms

She has been in custody for five months and a charge sheet has already been filed against her and the trial was likely to take time.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2017 21:27 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
VVIP chopper scam,AgustaWestland,Dubai-based firms
A file photo of an AgustaWestland helicopter.(HT File Photo)

The Delhi High Court on Friday granted bail to a woman director of two Dubai-based firms, who was arrested in connection with a money laundering case arising out of the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper scam.

Justice AK Pathak enlarged on bail Shivani Rajiv Saxena, saying that she has been in custody for five months and a supplementary prosecution complaint (charge sheet) has already been filed against her and the trial was likely to take time.

Saxena, a director of Dubai-based M/s UHY Saxena and M/s Matrix Holdings, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on July 16 and remanded in judicial custody.

The court asked her to furnish a personal bond of Rs one lakh and two sureties of the like amount and directed her not to leave India without prior permission of the trial court.

“Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, the woman is admitted to bail,” the court said.

The court imposed several bail conditions on her including that she should forthwith deposit her passport with the trial court and give her mobile number and address in India to the investigating officer of the case.

It noted that the offences alleged against her under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were punishable for a maximum sentence of seven years.

Saxena, 53, got the relief in her second attempt as the court had in September dismissed her earlier bail plea. She was also denied the relief by the trial court.

Senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Saxena, argued that the woman has not been chargesheeted by the CBI in the main case of predicate offence but only the ED has chargesheeted her under the PMLA.

She contended that the accused in the predicate offence as well as in the co-accused in the money laundering case have already been granted bail. Saxena had also cooperated in the investigation in the case, she said.

Central Government Standing Counsel Ripudaman Bhardwaj, appearing for the ED, opposed the bail plea contending that she was actively involved in laundering the proceeds of crime and in kickbacks in the AgustaWestland scam.

He argued that the offence is serious in nature and sufficient material has been collected showing her involvement in the crime and if released on bail, there are chances of her eviding the process of the law as she is a Dubai resident.

Saxena was nabbed by the ED from Chennai. She and the companies have been chargesheeted by the ED under various sections of the PMLA.

Saxena and her husband Rajiv Saxena are residents of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. The charge sheet contains her name and that of her husband, who is also a director in the two firms.

Rajiv Saxena has been evading ED summons and not joining the probe, the ED had alleged. The agency has so far not arrayed him as an accused.

The ED has alleged that the two Dubai-based firms and Shivani Saxena were the ones through whom “the proceeds of crime have been routed and further layered and integrated in buying the immovable properties/shares among others”.

It has claimed that its probe found that AgustaWestland, United Kingdom, had “paid an amount of Euro 58 million as kickbacks” through two Tunisia-based firms.

The ED, in this case, had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan who is currently out on bail.

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.

First Published: Dec 15, 2017 21:27 IST