The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday arrested Dubai-based businessman Rajeev Saxena, who is an accused in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, and corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar after they were extradited to India from Dubai, PTI reported.
Meanwhile, Special Judge SS Mann also granted the agency seven days custody of Talwar. The agency had sought his custody for 14 days.
Saxena and Talwar were arrested around 2 am on Thursday, according to ANI. They landed in Delhi in a special aircraft around 1.30 am. Two separate teams of the Enforcement Directorate are questioning them and they will be produced before a special court later in the day.
Saxena and Talwar were picked by Dubai authorities on Wednesday “in assistance” to a request made by Indian agencies, an unidentified official told PTI.
Saxena is accused of playing a key role in laundering the money received to pay kickbacks in the scam. According to a supplementary chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate in July, the bribe money was “layered” and projected as “untainted money” with the help of “fictitious invoices”. The kickbacks were reportedly paid to companies controlled by lawyer Gautam Khaitan using fictitious engineering contracts.
Talwar is accused of concealing income of more than Rs 1,000 crore as well as facilitating civil aviation contracts when the United Progressive Alliance was in power, according to The Economic Times. The Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation have booked Talwar in criminal cases of corruption, while the Income Tax Department has charged him with tax evasion.
The ED had summoned Saxena, who lives in Dubai, multiple times in the case and had arrested his wife, Shivani Saxena, from the Chennai airport in July 2017. Shivani Saxena is now out on bail, according to PTI.
Saxena’s extradition comes a month after British businessman Christian Michel, one of the three alleged middlemen in the AgustaWestland deal, was extradited to India from Dubai, where he runs a weapons business.
His lawyers alleged that the extradition was illegal and claimed that he was not being given access to his family, lawyers or even essential medicine.
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had signed the Rs 3,565-crore helicopter deal with British-Italian firm AgustaWestland in 2010. The deal was put on hold after Italy arrested the head of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland’s parent company, on charges of paying bribes to win the contract.