Who is Rajiv Saxena, Co-Accused in the AgustaWestland Case?
Rajiv Shamsher Bahadur Saxena, co-accused in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers money laundering case, is a Dubai-based businessman.
Saxena is alleged to have laundered illegal proceeds to pay off various bureaucrats, political figures and air force officials to influence the 2007 contract for supply of 12 VVIP helicopters in favour of British manufacturer AgustaWestland, according to various reports quoting the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The charge sheet filed by the agency claims that Saxena, along with another accused, played a crucial role in providing the corporate structure to launder the kickbacks from the Indian Air Force’s deal with AgustaWestland.
The deal was cancelled on 1 January 2014 after allegations of wrongdoing.
Alleged Role in the Deal
Saxena, a resident of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, is not alone in this case. While he has been summoned multiple times in the case by the ED, his wife, Shivani Saxena was also arrested from the Chennai airport in July 2017, after being named in the charge sheet by ED. She is now out on bail.
The ED had said that its probe found that AgustaWestland International Ltd, UK paid an amount of 58 million euros as kickbacks through Gordian Services Sarl, Tunisia and IDS Sarl, Tunisia, companies which further siphoned off the money in the name of consultancy contracts to Interstellar Technologies Ltd, Mauritius, and others.
Saxena is a “beneficial owner" of Interstellar Technologies Ltd.
This money was further laundered to UHY Saxena, Dubai and Matrix Holdings Ltd. Dubai and other companies in various companies, according to the ED, reported PTI.
The ED also alleged that the couple have transferred huge amounts of money through their Dubai-based companies to various other accounts.
Charge Sheet and ED Custody
According to Economic Times, Saxena was only named in the third supplementary complaint filed in July 2018 by the ED in the case.
On Thursday, 31 January, the ED took custody of Saxena after he was extradited from Dubai to India in connection with the case.
Saxena, along with co-accused Deepak Talwar, were brought from Dubai in a special plane and produced before the Patiala House Court in the capital. Initially sent to four days of ED remand, the court extended his custody by four days on 8 February, reported PTI.
According to Economic Times, the ED had earlier arrested Saxena under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. However, he had moved court seeking cancellation of the warrant, on grounds that he was not an absconder and had already provided the required documents and details.
Abduction, Not Extradition: Saxena’s Lawyers
Saxena's lawyers alleged that no extradition proceedings were started against him in the UAE and he was not allowed to access his family, lawyers or even essential medicines while being sent to India, according to ANI.
When the ED had sought the initial remand for Saxena, his counsel Geeta Luthra responded that the remand request would not hold. “The manner in which he has been brought here is illegal and because the manner is illegal, the remand request automatically becomes incorrect,” Luthra said.
Luthra called his extradition an abduction, saying that the law required an extradition and seizure of passport. However, according to officials, the UAE officials committed no illegal act in sending Saxena back since this visa had been rendered invalid after the Indian government cancelled his passport, reported The Times of India.
Keeping this in mind, the court has directed the ED to get the accused medically examined daily and provide the best possible medical assistance. It also directed that Saxena be kept in a comfortable and convenient place considering his condition.
Social Media & Business History
Saxena and his wife Shivani are both on Facebook. Rajiv’s bio on Facebook says that he is a Founder and Managing Partner at UHY Saxena. While there are many photos of the couple and their life on his profile, no other information is available. Shivani’s profile, however, provides the information that she hails from Lucknow and currently lives in Dubai.
Saxena is also on Instagram as rajivsaxenadubai, but this profile is locked and provides no glimpses into his life.
The profile also says that he was a former Board Member of Matrix Metals Ltd as well as Cronimet Alloys India Ltd.