AgustaWestland case accused and aviation lobbyist brought to India from Dubai and arrested
A Dubai-based businessman wanted in the AgustaWestland chopper case and a corporate aviation lobbyist have been deported to India and arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, officials said on Thursday.
They said Rajeev Shamsher Bahadur Saxena was wanted in the Rs 3,600-crore chopper money laundering case 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.
The two have been placed under arrest by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The agency has taken their custody from the Delhi airport area and they will be produced before a special court later in the day, the officials said.
Both were picked by Dubai authorities on Wednesday 'in assistance' to a request made by Indian agencies, they added.
The two are being questioned at an ED facility in central Delhi and after a medical check-up, they will be produced before the court, they said.
A co-accused and alleged middleman in this case, British national Christian James Michel, was recently extradited from Dubai to India (in December last year). He 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 and forgery for allegedly diverting Rs 90.72 crore worth of foreign funds meant for ambulances and other articles received by his NGO from a leading missile manufacturing company in Europe.
His role in some aviation deals during the UPA government's regime is under the scanner.
The ED had summoned 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 chopper case, for routing the purported kickbacks 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 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 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 the '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 Saxena in its chargesheet filed and had got a non-bailable warrant issued 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.