New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would demand further custody of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, said CBI sources. The Patiala House court had sent Christian Michel to 5-day CBI custody. He will again be produced in the court on December 10. Also Read - Coronavirus: 'World Economy Staring at Recession; India, China Likely Exceptions,' Says UN
He was produced before Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar which allowed discussions between him and his advocate for five minutes. Also Read - COVID-19: 194 New Cases Emerge in Single Day, Death Toll Reaches 23; Is India Ready For Stage 3?
Michel’s advocate asked the court to send him to judicial custody but the CBI sought his 14-days custodial interrogation to confront him with evidence and unearth the money trail in the scam. However, the judge allowed CBI to interrogate Michel for five days in its custody.
Michel was brought to India last week following his extradition by the UAE 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. However, he had denied the charges.
The CBI has alleged there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (approximately 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 “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 being done in the chopper deal that 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 an 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 (73) was also charge-sheeted by the CBI in a Delhi Court along with nine others in connection with a bribery case in the VVIP chopper deal. He is the first chief of the Indian Air Force to be charge-sheeted in a corruption or a criminal case by the CBI and he has denied all charges against him.
Besides him, the agency has also charge-sheeted retired Air Marshal JS Gujral along with eight others, including five foreign nationals, in the charge sheet filed before the Special CBI Judge. The Anglo-Italian company, AgustaWestland, is also one of the accused. Others named in the charge sheet are — Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev alias Julie, advocate Gautam Khaitan, alleged European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel, Guido Haschke, former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini and former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi.
They have been charge-sheeted for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC in the case relating to alleged bribery of Rs 450 crore.
Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on December 9 last year by the CBI in the case. These accused are currently on bail.