The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) moved the Delhi High Court against the bail order granted by a special CBI court to Rajiv Saxena, the accused turned approved in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.
Seeking his judicial custody, the CBI contended that Saxena doesn’t deserve a “parity” with other accused in the case, and alleged that the accused-turned-approver had misled the probe agencies and did not cooperate in the investigation. The premier agency stated that Saxena needs to go behind bars for an “effective investigation”.
The Delhi High Court last week took cognisance of CBI’s appeal and issued notices to Saxena, asking him to respond within 15 days as to why his bail should not be cancelled.
The CBI had filed an appeal against the bail order after a special CBI court in February rejected the investigation agency’s contention that Saxena should be jailed and granted him regular bail.
One of the reasons why CBI is pursuing to get Saxena’s bail cancelled is because they believe that the accused might acquire foreign citizenship and escape punishment. Caribbean isle Dominica—where Saxena has allegedly sought citizenship— does not have an extradition treaty with India.
The CBI claimed that Saxena did not reveal this fact to the probe agencies. The recovered documents revealed that Saxena had made “past efforts” for obtaining citizenship of Dominica and Cyprus while “intentionally keeping the Indian authorities in the dark regarding such attempts,” the agency said.
The agency further submitted before the Delhi HC that Saxena had evaded investigation and had to be extradited from Dubai to India in January 2019
Rajiv Saxena, described by the ED as one of the “key money launderers” was picked up by UAE government security agencies in Dubai and later extradited to India on January 30, 2019.
Saxena’s “approver” status is contested before the Supreme Court, which in December 2019 stayed a decision of the Delhi HC declining to revoke Saxena’s “approver” status on a plea by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED). Saxena is an approver in ED’s case but co-accused in a case filed by the CBI.
As per the charge sheet filed by the CBI, Christian Michel, another middleman accused in the case, paid 0.9 million euros to four entities belonging to Saxena from the proceeds of crime. The charge sheet says AgustaWestland paid 37 million euros to Michel through his company, according to the charge sheet.
It has also been alleged that Saxena colluded with Michel, co-accused Gautam Khaitan and top officials of AgustaWestland in routing kickbacks paid by the company through two entities: M/s IDS Tunisia and M/s Interstellar Technologies Ltd.
Saxena received 12.40 million euros in the account of M/s Interstellar Technologies from M/s AgustaWestland. The charge sheet alleged that Sandeep Tyagi, brother of the then Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi allegedly laundered kickbacks of Rs 5 crore through banking channels.
ED contested approver status after it found accused Rajiv Saxena had withheld information
It is pertinent to mention here that charge-sheeting of Rajiv Saxena, one of the middlemen in the alleged scam, assumes significance after he was accorded the approver status. It was months later, in October 2019, that another agency, Enforcement Directorate, had approached the court seeking cancellation of his approver status claiming he had concealed facts from the agencies.
A dossier received from Mauritius, along with the forensic data analysis and scrutiny of WhatsApp chats has led the Enforcement Directorate to suspect the authenticity of disclosures made by Rajiv Saxena, one of the main accused in the Rs 3600 crore AgustaWestland scam. As per a report in the Economic Times, the investigating agency has now pointed out that Saxena has concealed and withheld information at the instance of co-accused, especially Ratul Puri.