AgustaWestland scam: ED opposes Rajeev Saxena's plea to meet his lawyer in private
New Delhi, Feb 2: The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday opposed the petition of Rajeev Saxena, a Dubai-based businessman wanted in the VVIP chopper case, seeking to meet his lawyer in private, saying it may hamper the probe.
The ED made the submission in response to the plea moved by Saxena, who is in the agency's custody. Special judge Arvind Kumar directed the agency to file a detailed reply by Monday, when Saxena's custody ends. Saxena was deported from Dubai on January 31 and sent to 4-day ED custody the same day.
The court had allowed his custodial interrogation after the agency alleged that he and another accused provided global corporate structure to launder money. Saxena's counsel had sought access to him without the presence of ED officials. He had said that he was not being allowed to speak to his client without ED's interference.
Opposing the request, advocates D P Singh and N K Matta, appearing for ED, said allowing Saxena's counsel such access could be misused and hamper investigation in the case.
"There is apprehension that this opportunity might be used to transfer investigation-related information outside and vise versa," ED said.
The agency had alleged that in connivance with another accused, Guatam Khaitan, a Delhi based lawyer, Saxena provided a global corporate structure for laundering illegal proceeds of the crime for payment to various political persons, bureaucrats and Air Force officials to influence the contract to supply 12 VVIP helicopters in favour of AgustaWestland.
The CBI and the ED have registered cases in the VVIP chopper case in which former Air Force chief S P Tyagi is one of the accused. Saxena was picked up by Dubai authorities in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers money laundering case and deported to India.
A director of two Dubai-based firms — UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings, Saxena was residing in Palm Jumeriah, Dubai, and had been living in the UAE for 26 years. Maintaining that AgustaWestland had paid euro 58 million as kickbacks through two Tunisia-based firms, ED's advocate Samvedna Verma 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 chargesheet filed by ED. Christian Michel, former AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica directors Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, Tyagi and Saxena's wife Shivani were also named by the agency. It alleged 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 chargesheet. 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 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.