Home Crime In a big boost to AgustaWestland case, CBI court approves middleman Rajiv Saxena's plea to turn approver

In a big boost to AgustaWestland case, CBI court approves middleman Rajiv Saxena’s plea to turn approver

In his application under Section 306 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Rajiv Saxena had prayed for pardon in the case in exchange of full and true disclosure

The Special CBI Court has today approved Dubai-based accountant Rajiv Saxena’s plea to turn approver in AgustaWestland case. Saxena is one of the accused in the AgustaWestland kickback case. The order was pronounced by Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar.

In his application under Section 306 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Rajiv Saxena had prayed for pardon in the case in exchange of full and true disclosure.

The Enforcement Directorate had ‘vehemently supported’ the application before the CBI Court. The Investigating Agency had stated that Rajiv Saxena had shown an inclination to ‘unravel the truth’ and that he would be an important witness in the case.

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According to reports, recently Saxena had submitted a diary and a pen drive to the Enforcement Directorate, which have details of the Rs 423 crore alleged kickbacks paid in the VVIP chopper deal.

Rajiv Saxena had also submitted his statements before the court after he turned approver. He had earlier claimed before ED that his “exposure in the case was minimal” and that he merely acted as a front for other beneficiaries.

The agency, which believes that Saxena has extensive information on the bribe that was paid to certain politicians and bureaucrats in India, is also hoping that Saxena would also reveal significant details on the role of Christian Michel and Gautam Khaitan who are the co-accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

Rajiv Saxena was picked up by UAE government security agencies in Dubai and was later extradited to India on January 30, 2019. After spending 12 days in ED custody, Saxena was remanded to judicial custody by the Court. Last week, Saxena was granted interim bail by the Court on medical grounds.

The ED did not oppose his bail application when he had agreed to turn approver in the case. After he turned approver, Saxena recorded his statements before a court on March 6, which the ED accepted and informed the court that it supported Saxena’s application for turning a witness.

The ED’s probe into the money trail, according to its charge sheet filed earlier, revealed that AgustaWestland International Ltd, the UK subsidiary of Finmeccanica, paid 58 million euros (around Rs 423 crore) as kickbacks through Gordian Services Sarl, Tunisia and IDS Sarl, Tunisia. The money was further layered through multiple transactions in companies registered in different jurisdictions.

The kickbacks were moved from one company to another as consultancy fees. From the Tunisian entities, the bribe proceeds were transferred to Interstellar Technologies Ltd and others in Mauritius and further to UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings Ltd in Dubai.

Reportedly, the ED had alleged that Rajiv Saxena was a beneficial owner of Mauritius-based Interstellar Technologies Ltd and the proceeds of the bribe were transferred two companies in Dubai.

It was further reported that Rajiv Saxena has several accounts in Switzerland. OpIndia had acquired the list of accounts that Rajiv Saxena allegedly used for kickbacks received in the AgustaWestland scam.

The AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam has been nothing less of a blistering drama ever since middleman Christian Michel was extradited to India from Dubai. Several revelations came to light, from the names of “Italian Lady”, to “Italian Lady’s son R“. From how Christian Michel was lobbying for the Eurofighter and against the Rafale deal, to how he had unbridled access to the PMO under Congress regimethe CCS and even the investigative agencies.

India had signed a deal in 2010 under the UPA regime to buy 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for the service of the Prime Minister, the President and other VVIPs. It is alleged that some politicians and public servants had abused their official positions to reduce the service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6000 metres to 4500 metres to make AgustaWestland eligible for the contract and had awarded the contract for an amount of Euro 556.262 million in 2010. The deal was cancelled in 2013 after the scam was revealed.

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