VVIP chopper case: ED chargsheets Dubai-based director, others
New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday chargesheeted two Dubai-based firms and one of their directors in the Rs3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal related money laundering case.
In the supplementary charge sheet filed before special judge Arvind Kumar, the ED named Shivani Saxena, currently in judicial custody, as an “active” director of Dubai-based M/S UHY Saxena and M/S Matrix Holdings.
Both the companies have also been chargesheeted by the agency under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The court has put up the final report for consideration on 19 September.
Saxena was arrested by the ED on 17 July from Chennai in Tamil Nadu.
The final report also mentions the name of her husband Rajiv Saxena, who is also one of the directors in both these firms and has been evading ED summons to join the probe. However, he has not been arrayed as an accused so far and the agency said that another supplementary charge sheet may follow.
Saxena and her husband are residents of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, an archipelago which is home to the most expensive properties in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the report said.
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.
The agency claimed that its probe found that AgustaWestland, United Kingdom, had “paid an amount of €58 million as kickbacks” through two Tunisia-based firms. “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,” the charge sheet said. The ED had also claimed that Rajiv was the “beneficial owner of Ms Interstellar Technologies Limited, Mauritius”.
It alleged that both the Dubai companies of the couple “received the proceeds of crime in their respective Dubai bank accounts” from the Mauritius-based firm.
The ED, in this case, had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan who is currently out on bail.
The probe in the deal had gathered pace after a Milan (Italy) court in April 2016 had sentenced Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini on corruption charges in the sale of these helicopters to India.
The Milan court order also mentioned the name of former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi at several points.
After this, the ED and the CBI began a fresh round of questioning of the accused in this case and collection of further evidences. The ED had registered a PMLA case in 2014 and named 21 people, including Tyagi, in its money laundering FIR.
On 1 January 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 Rs423 crore paid by the firm for securing the deal.
In June last year, the agency had filed a 1,300-page charge sheet in the case, alleging that British national and alleged middleman Christian Michel James had allegedly received €30 million (about Rs225 crore) from M/S AgustaWestland as “kickbacks” paid by the firm to execute the deal for sale of 12 helicopters to India in favour of the firm in the “guise” of genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country.
James is one of the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case, apart from Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by ED and CBI.
Both the agencies have also notified an Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) or a global arrest warrant against James after a court had issued an NBW against him. The present complaint delved into the alleged detailed role of James in the deal, his multiple visits to India and his transactions. The first complaint in the case was filed in November 2014.
Former IAF chief S P Tyagi was granted bail on 26 December last year while his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were granted the relief on 4 January by the court in a separate case filed by CBI in connection to the same deal. The CBI had arrested all the three accused on 9 December last year.
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