The UPA era VVIP chopper scam has seen several brisk developments since middleman Christian Michel was extradited to India from Dubai. In the latest, one of the prime accused in the AgustaWestland case, Rajiv Saxena, who was picked up by UAE government security agencies in Dubai and later extradited to India on January 30, 2019, is likely to turn an approver.
According to reports, Rajiv Saxena, who was recently granted bail by a Delhi court in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland scam, is all set to move an application in the Patiala House Court in Delhi today, seeking to become an approver in the case. His request will be supported by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The agency, which believes that Saxena has extensive information on the bribe that was paid to certain politicians and bureaucrats in India, are also hoping that once Saxena turns an approver he will also reveal significant details on the role of Christian Michel and Gautam Khaitan who are the co-accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.
According to ED, three of Rajiv Saxena’s companies, Interstellar Technologies (Mauritius), UHY Saxena (Dubai) and Matrix Holding (Dubai) had received kickbacks from Gordian Sarl (Tunisia) and IDS Technologies (Tunisia), firms that were set up by AgustaWestland accused Gautam Khaitan. Middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke were directors in this firm.
Since the agency was certain that Saxena had complete knowledge about the money trail that was paid as kickbacks to manage the chopper deal in favour of AgustaWestland and claimed that he was cooperating with the agency and helping in establishing the same, the ED had refused to oppose his bail, which was granted to him on medical grounds. Prior to this, the agency had opposed the bail plea in December 2018.
This development holds significance as Rajiv Saxena was described as the “key money launderer” by ED in the case. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had named him in a supplementary charge sheet filed in the VVIP Chopper scam in September 2017. Saxena and his wife Shivani Saxena are directors in two Dubai based companies, while he is a director in another Mauritius based company, and it is alleged that all those companies received proceeds of the kickbacks paid in the AgustaWestland deal.
Prior to the extradition of the two main accused Rajiv Saxena and Deepak Talwar, several startling revelations came to light in the VVIP chopper scam soon after the case gained momentum post middleman Christian Micheal’s extradition to India. From the names of “Italian Lady”, to “Italian Lady’s son R“ to how Christian Michel was lobbying for the Eurofighter and against the Rafale deal and how he had unbridled access to the PMO under Congress regime, the CCS and even the investigative agencies.
India on January 1, 2014, scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary, AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force over an alleged breach of contract and charges of paying kickbacks totaling to Rs 423 crore to several politicians and bureaucrats in order to secure the deal.