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AgustaWestland case: CBI says 'middleman' Christian Michel not cooperating, gets five-day custody

The CBI Said In The Court That Michel Was Not Cooperating In The Investigation.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Aniruddha Dhar | Updated on: 10 Dec 2018, 04:43:32 PM
Christian Michel

New Delhi:

A Delhi court sent Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, to five-day Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) remand for his custodial interrogation. The CBI said in the court that Michel was not cooperating in the investigation.

He was produced before Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar after the expiry of his five-day CBI remand. The probe agency sought further remand of nine days for Michel's custodial interrogation saying he was not cooperating in the investigation of the case. At the outset, Michel withdrew his earlier bail plea and filed fresh detailed bail application. 

Michel's counsel opposed the CBI plea for further custody saying it was not required as no incriminating evidence has been shown to him till now.

On the CBI application for seeking specimen of handwriting and signature, the Special CBI Court asked Michel's counsel to file a reply. The court will hear this application on Tuesday.

The CBI agreed to give the British High Commission access to Michel. "We have already been approached by British counselors. We have allowed their plea of keeping their own counsel," said the CBI.

The Court fixed 30 minutes time, both in morning and evening every day, for the counsel of Michel. The CBI, however, wanted the counsel to visit only once a day.

Michel, who is a citizen of the United Kingdom, was brought to India on the night of December 4, following his extradition by the UAE in connection with the case and later produced before the court which had allowed his five-day custodial interrogation by the CBI. The court had asked the CBI to provide all relevant documents, including the charge sheet, to Michel.

Security was tightened at the Patiala House court complex hours before the production of Michel. Around 15-20 personnel of the CRPF and 30 Delhi Police officials had been deputed in the court complex as well as outside several of its gates, said one of the police officials. The police force, included women officials.

 Michel, 54, landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on a Gulfstream jet at 10.35 pm on December 4 after which he was arrested by the CBI in connection with the case. Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the ED and the CBI. Both the agencies have notified an Interpol red corner notice (RCN) against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

Michel has denied the charges.

The CBI has alleged there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (about Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth Euro 556.262 million.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received EUR 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.

The money was nothing but "kickbacks" paid by the firm to execute the 12 helicopter deal in favour of the firm in the "guise of" genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country, according to the charge sheet.

The ED investigation found that remittances made by Michel through his Dubai-based firm Global Services to a media firm he floated in Delhi, along with two Indians, were made from the funds which he got from AgustaWestland through "criminal activity" and corruption in the chopper deal, which led to the subsequent generation of proceeds of crime.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

The CBI on September 1, 2017, had filed a charge sheet in the case in which Michel was named as one of the accused.

Former IAF Chief SP Tyagi was also chargesheeted by the CBI in a Delhi Court along with nine others in connection with a bribery case in the VVIP chopper deal. Tyagi, 73, is the first chief of the Indian Air Force to be chargesheeted in a corruption or a criminal case by the CBI and he has denied all charges against him.

Besides him, the agency has also chargesheeted retired Air Marshal J S Gujral along with eight others, including five foreign nationals, in the charge sheet filed before the Special CBI Judge.

Anglo-Italian company, AgustaWestland, is also one of the accused.

(With PTI inputs)

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First Published : 10 Dec 2018, 04:05:39 PM