New Delhi, Dec 10 (IECurrentAffairs) Special Judge Arvind Kumar on Monday sent to five-day CBI custody to Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper case.
The high-profile 57-year-old British national was today produced after five days Central Bureau of Investigation custody at New Delhi’s Patiala House Court.
Indian Air Force had floated a proposal in 1999 for acquisition of 12 VVIP helicopters to ferry top Government functionaries. The deal was granted to AgustaWestland in 2010 for Rs 3,600 crore. It was alleged that technical specifications had been tweaked including lowering of the service ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000 m to 4,500 m to help AgustaWestland win the bid for which bribes were allegedly paid.
In this matter, CBI had registered an FIR on March 14, 2013, and named former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi and 12 other individuals as an accused apart from four companies. Besides, members of the Tyagi family, three middlemen Michel, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke were included as accused.
Michel was among the alleged middlemen who had brokered the deal. Investigators claim he paid bribes to officials and politicians to swing the contract in favour of AgustaWestland, the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica.
Directorate of Enforcement also began investigations in the matter under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act after CBI’s FIR.
CBI had alleged in this matter that an amount of Euro 42.27million was paid by the Finmeccanica Group to the firms of Christian Michel James as kickbacks or bribes.
It was further alleged in the matter that while Gerosa and Haschke paid off members of the Tyagi family, Michel dealt with Ministry of Defence bureaucrats and politicians. Indian agencies were on the look out for Michel.
CBI took up the probe in the matter and wanted Michel for interrogation but he was deliberately evading the agency and his presence become possible six years after his alleged involvement in the purchase of VVIP helicopters surfaced six years ago.
Special CBI Judge had issued non bailable warrant of arrest against Michel on September 24, 2015, and on the basis of the non bailable warrant of arrest Interpol put out a Red Corner Notice on November 25, 2015, against him. He was finally arrested by the UAE authorities in February last year.
CBI had filed a charge sheet in the court on September 1, 2017, against Michel and 11 others. A request for extradition of Michel was forwarded to the UAE authorities on March 19, last year.
A Court of Dubai on November 19, 2018, upheld the decision for extradition of Michel to Indian authorities for facing legal proceedings against him. He was brought India last week and a Special Court granted five days custody of Michel for interrogation in the case.
CBI had alleged in the matter that Michel had entered into as many as 12 contracts through two of his firms namely, Global Trade & Commerce Ltd. London and Global Services FZE, Dubai, UAE with Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Westland Helicopters UK to legitimise the illicit commission.
CBI submitted before the court that Michel was not cooperating with the investigating agency and was evading questions. CBI sought nine days custody of Michel in the case for further interrogation.
Michel today filed a fresh detailed bail application before the court.