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VVIP chopper scam: Rajiv Saxena tried to acquire foreign citizenship to avoid probe, says CBI

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NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation has sought judicial custody of Rajiv Saxena, a co-accused in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper scandal, claiming he actively tried to obtain citizenship of Dominica and Cyprus.

The investigating agency has urged a special CBI court to cancel the bail granted to Saxena, saying he “intentionally” kept Indian authorities in the dark about his attempts to acquire foreign citizenship in a bid to thwart the probe in the case. Dominica does not have an extradition treaty with India.

In a submission last week before a local court, the CBI said its recent supplementary charge sheet naming Saxena as an accused was filed after getting crucial information from the income tax department.

According to the CBI’s reply, accessed by ET, the income tax authorities told the agency on September 30 that they had seized the hard disks of two of Saxena’s laptops during a search of his premises.

“On the same date these authorities further apprised the CBI that the analysis of the data on these laptops revealed documents showing Saxena’s efforts/communications for obtaining citizenship of… Dominica and Cyprus,” the CBI said in its reply.

The CBI said it asked the Principal Director of Income Tax (Investigation) in New Delhi the very same day for the hard disks to independently analyse and verify the information and received them on December 15.

“The retrieved documents on these drives show” that Saxena had made “past efforts” for obtaining citizenship of Dominica and Cyprus while “intentionally keeping the Indian authorities in the dark regarding such attempts,” the agency said.

The CBI said Saxena “has tried to play one investigating agency against the other and made all possible efforts to thwart an effective investigation of the case”. Saxena is an accused-turned-approver in a case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate. However, the ED has sought to revoke his approver status in the Supreme Court.

Seeking cancellation of Saxena’s bail, the CBI said he “may evade the process of law and may acquire a foreign citizenship using his financial influence or other dubious means.”

Responding to the court’s query as to why Saxena was never arrested, the CBI said it “does not arrest any person in a routine manner. Arrests are in fact made in exceptional cases with proper justification, where it is expedient to do so.”

The agency claimed Saxena, who was extradited from Dubai to India in January 2019, has not joined the investigation over the past three months as part of “his ill-conceived design to derail the investigation.”

“While he cited his failure to appear and travel to either the Delhi or the Mumbai office citing medical concerns, he was vehemently taking appropriate legal recourse to travel abroad to London and Ireland,” the CBI said.

The CBI had named Saxena an accused along with 14 others in its charge sheet filed in September. Saxena is accused of laundering money and facilitating the payment of kickbacks to swing the VVIP chopper deal in favour of AgustaWestland.

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