New Delhi: A special CBI Court on Monday granted 15-minute time in a week to AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case middleman Christian Michel to speak to his family and lawyers. The development comes days after the British High Commission in India gained consular access to Michel. The high commission had said, “Our staff are supporting a British man who is detained in India, and have visited him to check his welfare.”
Michel, 57, was brought to India following his extradition by the United Arab Emirates in December 2018. He is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the Enforcement Directorate 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.
Earlier this month, Christian Michel was sent to judicial custody till February 26 by the Patiala House Court. He was produced before Special Judge Arvind Kumar.
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”, the charge sheet said.
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.