New Delhi: The Patiala House court on Wednesday sent Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, to 5-day CBI custody. He will again be produced in the court on December 10.Also Read - ‘My Daughter's Soul Will Rest in Peace,’ Says Nirbhaya’s Mother After Courts Dismiss Convicts’ Pleas
He was produced before Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar which allowed discussions between him and his advocate for five minutes. Also Read - ‘Kill me Too’: Wife of Akshay Singh Faints Outside Court, Says She Also Wants Justice
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. Also Read - Nirbhaya Case: Convicts to Hang on March 20 as Patiala House Court Issues Fresh Death Warrant
On the other hand, a bail plea was also moved on his behalf. The court did not give any specific date for hearing the bail plea.
Michel, 54, was brought to India late Tuesday night following his extradition by the UAE in connection with the case. He landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on a Gulfstream jet at 10.35 PM after which he was arrested by the CBI in connection with the case.
Around 15-20 personnel of the CRPF and 30 Delhi Police officials were deputed in the court complex as well as outside several of its gates ahead of the hearing. The police force, include presence of women officials.
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 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 chargesheeted 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 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 JS 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. 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 chargesheeted 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.