Deported Talwar, Saxena sent to ED custody

Deported Talwar, Saxena sent to ED custody

Rajeev Saxena. ANI photo

Aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar and businessman Rajeev Saxena, who were deported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and arrested here on Thursday early morning in separate cases, were sent to the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning.

Saxena, who is accused of providing a global corporate structure to launder money involved in the AgustaWestland scam case, was sent to custody for four days while Talwar, who has swung aviation deals allegedly through illegal means, will be with ED sleuths for the next seven days.

Their deportation came two months after the UAE extradited Christian Michel, a suspected middleman in the AgustaWestland deal. The timing of their deportation comes at a time the country is headed for a Lok Sabha election and the ruling BJP is likely to use it against Congress.

The BJP has been raising the pitch over AgustaWestland to counter the Congress campaign on Rafale deal while Talwar's case related to the UPA-era aviation deals.

The ED had sought 8-day custody of Saxena but the court provided only four days to interrogate him. According to the ED, he had allegedly connived with another accused Gautam Khaitan, a Delhi based lawyer.

Saxena is accused of providing a global corporate structure for laundering illegal proceeds of the crime for payment to various political persons, bureaucrats and air force officials to influence the contract for the supply of 12 VVIP helicopters.

The ED lawyers told the court that the proceeds of crime after being received in the accounts of Interstellar owned by Saxena was laundered in various companies in different countries and the company is owned by Saxena. Saxena's lawyers countered the ED contentions.

In Talwar's case, the ED alleged that he lobbied to favour foreign private airlines causing the loss to national carrier Air India.

"It has been alleged that officials of Ministry of Civil Aviation, NACIL, Air India, by abusing their official positions as public servants and receiving illegal gratification, in conspiracy with other public servants, private domestic and foreign airlines, made the national carrier gave up profit-making routes and profit making timings of Air India in favour of national and international domestic and foreign private airlines. This resulted in a huge loss of market share to the national carrier and also led to pecuniary benefits to private domestic and foreign airlines," the ED told the court.

The companies "directly or indirectly controlled by the accused have received exorbitant amounts from Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia," ED said, submitting a chart of total $60.54 million received by Talwar firms between April 23, 2008, to February 6, 2009.