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VVIP Chopper case: Dubai-based accused moves court, seeks anticipatory bail

The move comes a fortnight after the alleged middleman in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, Christian Michel, was extradited from the UAE to India

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

VVIP chopper scam
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A Dubai-based businessman and accused in a money laundering case related to the Rs 36-billion VVIP chopper deal moved a Delhi court Monday seeking anticipatory bail.

Rajeev Saxena, a director of two Dubai-based firms UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings filed application through his advocate before Special Judge Arvind Kumar, saying he was anticipating arrest.

According to the agency's lawyer, the government is working to extradite Saxena back to India.

The move comes a fortnight after the alleged middleman in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, Christian Michel, was extradited from the UAE to India.

According to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), both Michel and Saxena, along with others, were part of a chain through which the "proceeds of crime" were laundered.

On Saxena's application, the court sought response from the ED by December 24, when it will next hear the matter.

The court also asked senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Saxena, to take instruction from her client as to when he may come to India and join the probe.

Michel, a British national, was extradited from Dubai to India earlier this month and is currently in the CBI custody in a related case.

The court has already issued non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Saxena in the case. However, the accused has filed an application before it seeking cancellation of the NBW.

The accused, a non-resident, currently residing in Palm Jumeriah, Dubai, has been living in the UAE for last 26 years.

In his application, Saxena said that "he undertakes to appear before this court. However, the applicant is filing the instant application as he apprehends his arrest by the respondent".

"It would be a travesty of justice to allow the respondent (ED) to confine the applicant to any form of detention," the application said.

It claimed that even as per ED's charge sheet, the other accused who have committed more grave offence than Saxena, such as Gautam Khaitan and SP Tyagi, are out on bail and "there can be no justification to deny the applicant grant of anticipatory bail".

Saxena claimed he had no antecedent in any crime or illegal activities in the past and asserted that he was "innocent".

He also told the court that he was seeking the relief on medical grounds as he was "an extremely sick person with advanced terminal diseases", including an advanced stage leukemia (blood cancer).

Maintaining that AgustaWestland had paid Euro 58 million as kickbacks through two Tunisia-based firms, the ED has alleged that "these companies further siphoned off the said money in the name of consultancy contracts to M/s Interstellar Technologies Limited, Mauritius and others which were further transferred to M/s UHY Saxena and M/s Matrix Holdings Ltd, Dubai and others".

Saxena is one of the accused named in the charge sheet filed by the ED. Michel, former AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica directors Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, ex-IAF chief S P Tyagi and Saxena's wife Shivani Saxena were also named by the agency.

It was alleged by the probe agency that the two Dubai-based firms were the entities "through which the proceeds of crime have been routed and further layered and integrated in buying the immovable properties/ shares, among others" in this case.

"Saxena has transferred proceeds of crime from M/s Interstellar to his Dubai based companies M/s UHY Saxena and M/s Matrix Holdings Ltd," ED said in its charge sheet.

The agency claimed its probe had found that AgustaWestland, United Kingdom, had "paid an amount of Euro 58 million as kickbacks" through two Tunisia-based firms.

On January 1, 2014, India had 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 of Rs 423 crore paid by it to secure the deal.

First Published: Mon, December 17 2018. 20:30 IST
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