The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday opposed the plea of Rajeev Saxena, an accused in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, to meet his lawyer in private, saying it may hamper the inquiry, reported PTI. The agency was responding to Saxena’s plea before a court in Delhi.
Special judge Arvind Kumar directed the agency to file a detailed reply by Monday, when Saxena’s custody ends.
Saxena, a Delhi-based businessman, and corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar were arrested on Thursday after they were extradited to India from Dubai. The special court had given the Enforcement Directorate four days custody after the agency alleged that he and another accused, Gautam Khaitan, provided global corporate structure to launder money.
Saxena’s counsel had sought access to him privately. Counsel for Enforcement Directorate said allowing Saxena’s counsel private access could be misused to hamper the investigation. “There is apprehension that this opportunity might be used to transfer investigation-related information outside and vice-versa,” the agency said.
The agency said Saxena and Khaitan provided a global corporate structure to launder illegal proceeds of the crime for payment to political leaders, bureaucrats and Air Force officials to influence the contract to supply 12 VVIP helicopters in favour of AgustaWestland.
The Central Bureau of investigation and the Enforcement Directorate have registered cases in the AgustaWestland chopper case.
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.
Gautam Khaitan’s custody extended
A Delhi court on Saturday extended the Enforcement Directorate’s custody of another accused, Gautam Khaitan, by six days in a fresh case of alleged possession of black money and money laundering.
Special Judge Arvind Kumar remanded Khaitan in the custody of Enforcement Directorate, which had arrested him on January 25, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Khaitan was arrested in December 2016 in connection with the AgustaWestland chopper scam. However, he was granted bail in the case.
The court also directed the agency to take care of Khaitan’s medical needs after he complained that he was not sleeping properly.
The Enforcement Directorate said there was “material evidence and reasons to believe” that Khaitan had laundered money which is punishable under Section 4 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act. “The accused is in possession of the proceeds of of crime generated as a result of the wilful attempt to evade tax,” the agency said. “The accused has intentionally and deliberately been involved in projecting the proceeds of crime as untainted.”
The agency said custodial interrogation of Khaitan was required to identify all the “tainted money”. It said Khaitan’s custody was required to identify the trail of the people who received proceeds of the crime and routed them through structured foreign companies of Khaitan.
Khaitan had earlier told the court that that the Enforcement Directorate was forcing him to falsely implicate someone influential in “any defence deal” struck during the rule of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that Khaitan owns several illegal properties and runs “less of a law firm and more of a money laundering business”. He was arrested on Friday, a week after the Central Board of Direct Taxes searched his offices and properties in New Delhi and the National Capital Region.