New Delhi: In what may come as a shot in the arm for investigative agencies probing the VVIP chopper scandal, a co-accused has “agreed” to become an approver, a witness, in the case, said people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Rajiv Saxena, who was extradited from Dubai on January 30, is learnt to have offered to become an approver.
However, he has not moved an application to this effect in court.
The development assumes significance because Saxena, who has been described as the “key money launderer” by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), claims to know the entire money trail of the alleged kickbacks paid to manage the chopper deal in favour of M/s AgustaWestland.
Sources told ET that Saxena has revealed the involvement of two individuals in the chopper scandal, who have till now managed to remain under the radar of agencies. One of them, as per sources, worked as an “agent” for AgustaWestland and was in possession of handwritten diaries detailing kickbacks allegedly paid to politicians, bureaucrats and other influential people.
The ED got a rap by a local court on Wednesday for not opposing Saxena’s bail. Citing Saxena’s poor health, ED’s special prosecutor DP Singh urged the court to consider Saxena’s case sympathetically. He told the court that Saxena has cooperated with the agency and has made several new revelations during the interrogation.
The court wanted to know why they arrested Saxena if the agency was to eventually demand his release.
Singh clarified that since Saxena had escaped and was avoiding the agencies, he had to be arrested.
The court asked the authorities to file Saxena’s medical report by Thursday, when the court will decide on his bail application.
Saxena had sought in-camera proceedings on Tuesday. In-camera proceedings are generally held inside a judge’s chamber.
As per available information, if Saxena is released on bail, he will move an application in court seeking to become an approver.
The application, sources told ET, will not be opposed by the probe agencies.
Saxena has been named as an accused only by the ED so far, which had charge-sheeted him last July.
Saxena is not an accused in the case of the CBI which wants to question him after ED managed to get him extradited from Dubai last month.
If Saxena succeeds in becoming an approver, he will array as a witness.
Saxena’s alleged involvement is crucial for the agencies for he claims to know about the role of several players involved in the scandal.
ET was the first to report on February 4 that ED in its remand paper told the court that it has found a “meeting point” (common thread) of kickbacks allegedly paid by Saxena and alleged middleman Christian Michel, who was extradited from Dubai last December.
ED told the court that Saxena has revealed “ownership/control” on certain companies which were found receiving proceeds of crime from a company used by Michel.
The remand paper further alleged that Rajiv Saxena, in “connivance with” lawyer Gautam Khaitan, another co-accused, provided “corporate structure across the globe for laundering operation” and played an active role in laundering the proceeds of crime. It added that Saxena and Khaitan were the “key figures in placing, layering and integrating the tainted money” into the financial system.
Source: Economic Times