Court sends Michel to 10 days judicial custody

Court sends Michel to 10 days judicial custody

Christian Michel (C), the alleged middleman in the multi-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, being produced at a CBI court in Patiala House Court in New Delhi. PTI Photo

A Delhi court on Wednesday remanded Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 360 billion AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal to 10 days of judicial custody and reserved its order on his bail for December 22.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar sent Michel to the judicial custody after his custodial interrogation by the CBI.

During the hearing, the investigating agency strongly opposed the bail plea of Michel contending that the accused is a British national and has no roots in India. There is every likelihood that if he is granted bail, he may abscond from India, evading the process of law and may not return back to face the trial, it said.

It further said the investigation was at a crucial stage and he has been brought to India from the UAE after completing lengthy and rigorous process. “The applicant is accused of serious economic offences. There is ample evidence on record link him to the commission of offences and his release on bail would adversely affect the investigation to unearth the deep-rooted multi-layered conspiracy in the instant case,” the CBI stated. It claimed the accused enjoyed a close proximity and influence with highly-placed persons.

“There is enough independent evidence to establish that M/s AgustaWestland had paid kickbacks to the tune of Euro 42.27 million to the firms of Michel and Euro 20.8 million to the entities of Guido Ralp Haschke, Tyagi brothers etc in the guise of consultancy and service agreements,” it claimed.

According to the documents recovered, “Michel had agreed to reduce the amount from Euro 42 million to Euro 30 million for the 'team' to honour the commission to the 'family' in full,” the CBI stated in its reply.

In his bail application, Michel contended allegations against him were more than a decade old and he had supplied all the documents – pertaining to the transactions but the investigating agency was not ready to take it. He has not been a previous convict even as per the chargesheet, his counsel contended.

His counsel Aljo K Joseph also submitted that he had provided his handwriting sample, though the CBI did not have any original documents to match with.

The 57-year-old was arrested in the UAE and extradited to India on December 4. Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

According to the CBI, there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (about 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 ED, in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received Euro 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.