New Delhi: The Patiala House Court on Saturday sent Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, to judicial custody till February 26, news agency ANI. Michel was produced before Special Judge Arvind Kumar. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought his judicial custody in connection with its probe into a money-laundering case.
Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the court said, “All the documents submitted in the Italian court were false, we have evidence for it. The probe has been fruitful. We have investigated how cash hawala circulated through multiple bank accounts.”
Michel, who was extradited from Dubai recently, was arrested by the ED on December 22 and sent to seven-day custody of the agency over money-laundering charges in the scam by a court. Michel was earlier lodged in the Tihar Jail here in a related CBI case.
Michel was brought to India last year 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 corruption or a criminal case by the CBI and he has denied all charges against him.