Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 May 2019

Dubai businessman Rajiv Saxena extradited to India

Mr Saxena will be questioned over alleged bribery charges linked to the Agusta Westland helicopter deal

Rajiv Saxena, accused of involvement in India's scandal-tainted helicopter deal with Anglo-Italian firm Agusta Westland, is pictured inside a vehicle outside a court in New Delhi, India. Reuters
Rajiv Saxena, accused of involvement in India's scandal-tainted helicopter deal with Anglo-Italian firm Agusta Westland, is pictured inside a vehicle outside a court in New Delhi, India. Reuters

Dubai businessman Rajiv Saxena has been extradited to India for allegedly using a number of his companies to route illegal funds later deployed to bribe Indian politicians in a multi-million-dollar defence scandal.

On Thursday, a court in New Delhi granted India’s federal Enforcement Directorate four days in which to question Mr Saxena over charges that he allowed a Mauritius firm and two Dubai-based companies to be used to transfer cash connected to the Anglo-Italian firm Agusta Westland helicopter deal.

Arvind Kumar, a special judge of the Central Bureau of Investigation, said the time had been awarded to allow officials the opportunity “to unearth the larger conspiracy and money trail.”

Mr Saxena is the second Dubai businessman to be handed over to Indian authorities in the past two months for allegedly paying bribes to Indian officials to secure a $500million deal for 12 helicopters.

British businessman Christian Michel, a consultant with Agusta, was extradited from Dubai to New Delhi in December last year for his alleged role in mediating bribes between government officials and the helicopter firm.

On Thursday, the Enforcement Directorate submitted to the court that Mr Saxena and Gautam Khaitan, another accused who has also been arrested, “provided a corporate structure across the globe for laundering ill-gotten proceeds of crime for payment to various political persons, bureaucrats and air force officials to influence the contract for supply of 12 VVIP helicopters in favour of Agusta Westland.”

A copy of the court order is with The National.

Indian officials asked for custody to determine Mr Saxena’s role in the “offence of money laundering, the money trail, payment of kickbacks and to unearth how the kickbacks were routed and laundered”.

India’s Enforcement Directorate charged Mr Saxena with money laundering offences in July 2018.

Mr Saxena, according to Indian authorities, allowed money to be transferred through his Dubai audit and accounting firm UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings Ltd for the Agusta Westland bribery deal.

An arrest warrant was issued for him in India and an Interpol red notice prevented him from travelling overseas.

Mr Saxena’s lawyers said he was taken from his Dubai home by police on Wednesday morning and placed on a plane to New Delhi the same evening.

They said he had been ready to face charges in India, but had wanted assurances that he would be granted bail because he had late-stage leukaemia.

The judge in India said that medication and his required diet were being provided to Mr Saxena.

The businessman has lived in Dubai since 1991.

Updated: February 1, 2019 12:21 PM

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