New Delhi, Oct 6

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday opposed the bail plea of a woman Director of a Dubai-based company in a money-laundering case related to the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

Public Prosecutor Navin Kumar Matta requested Special Judge Arvind Kumar not to grant bail to Shivani Saxena, citing serious nature of offence filed against the woman accused.

The prosecutor told the court that if she was released on bail, she could tamper with evidence or influence the witnesses.

The court has listed the matter for October 7 for further hearing.

On September 13, the Directorate charge-sheeted Shivani Saxena under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The ED, in June last year, filed the first supplementary chargesheet in the case against British national Christian Michel James, Delhi-based Media Exim Pvt Ltd and its Director R.K. Nanda and former Director J.B. Subramaniyam in its ongoing money-laundering probe in the Rs 3,600 crore helicopter deal.

The first charge-sheet was filed in the case in November 2014 against businessman Gautam Khaitan, his wife Ritu, Chandigarh-based firm Aeromatrix and two alleged Italian middlemen -- Guido Ralph Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

The charge-sheet said the alleged middlemen managed to make inroads into the Indian Air Force to influence and subvert its stand on reducing the service ceiling of helicopters from 6,000 metre to 4,500 metre in 2005, after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply a dozen helicopters for VVIP duties.

Shivani, wife of Rajeev Shamsher Bahadur Saxena, a resident of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, was arrested on July 17.

The ED alleged that Shivani and her husband Rajeev were partners and Directors in Dubai-based companies UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings Ltd, through which proceeds of the crime were routed and used for buying immovable properties and shares.

According to the agency, Britain-based AgustaWestland International Ltd paid 58 million euros in kickbacks, through Tunisia-based Gordian Services Sarl and IDS Sarl, who transferred the money to Mauritius-based Interstellar Technologies Ltd in the guise of consultancy contracts and this firm, in turn, sent the money to these two Dubai companies.

Shivani Saxena was the second accused arrested by the Directorate in the case. In 2014, the agency had arrested lawyer Gautam Khaitan for his alleged role in routing the kickbacks in the purchase of 12 AW-101 helicopters. Currently, Khaitan is out on bail.

The case is based on the investigation being conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which had arrested former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi and two others in connection with the case in 2016.

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