CBI to grill Michel for next 5 days

CBI to grill Michel for next 5 days

Agusta Westland scam accused middleman Michel Christian at CBI headquarters in New Delhi, on early Wednesday. PTI Photo

Christian Michel, a suspected middleman in the AgustaWestland scam who was extradited from Dubai, was on Wednesday sent to custodial interrogation by the CBI for five days.

A British national who was extradited from Dubai on Tuesday late night, Michel was produced before Special CBI judge Arvind Kumar in the evening, who rejected his lawyers' demand for sending him to judicial custody citing that they have not received any document regarding the case.

Michel 57, for whom the British High Commission has sought consular access, will now be produced before the court on December 10. Michel faced interrogation at the CBI headquarters after he landed in Delhi airport at 10:35 PM on Tuesday.

While sending him to CBI custody, the court said, "the accused shall also be entitled to get assistance from his advocate during interrogation. The CBI will permit counsel for accused to assist the accused between 10 am to 11 am and from 5 pm to 6 pm on each day.

In its remand application, the CBI sought his 14-days custodial interrogation to confront him with evidence and unearth the money trail in the scam but the court granted only five days. The judge also asked the CBI to provide all relevant documents including the chargesheet to Michel.

Appearing for the CBI, Senior Public Prosecutor D P Singh said there were despatches from Michel to AgustaWestland, which contained classified material, which he gathered through various officials.

Singh claimed, "Michel had entered into as many as 12 contracts through two of his firms M/s Global Trade and Commerce Ltd, London and M/s Global Services FZE, Dubai with M/s Finmeccanica, M/s AgustaWestland, M/s Westland Helicopters UK etc to legitimise illicit commission on the procurement of VVIP helicopters."

"An amount of Euro 42.27 million was paid by the Westland Group of companies to the firms of accused Michel as kickbacks/bribes without undertaking any work against the receipt of such amount," he claimed.

Singh said it is important to know where this money has gone, who was paid, the money trail and for this custodial interrogation was necessary. "The custodial interrogation of Michel is required to unearth the deep-rooted conspiracy and to identify his accomplices including the IAF officials, bureaucrats and politicians, who were instrumental in changing the decisions, which made M/s AgustaWestland eligible to participate in the bidding process and ultimately bagging it," he said.

Michel's lawyer Aljo K Joseph moved a bail application but did not press for a hearing. However, he said that Michel should be sent to judicial custody and vehemently opposed the CBI demand. "None of the documents presented by the CBI in the court have not been presented in any international court earlier. Just for the sake of custody, they are presenting it to her. We don't know what are the documents and where are these manufactured," Joseph said. 

The court order is attached below: