ED wants to question Michel

ED wants to question Michel

Christian Michel. PTI

The Enforcement Directorate will seek permission to question AgustaWestland scam accused Christian Michel on a money laundering case arising out of the multi-crore VVIP chopper deal, officials said on Wednesday.

Sources said they will question him about the purported creation of "shell firms" in India and abroad by him and others to launder bribe money. Michel is presently in CBI custody after his extradition on Tuesday night.

The agency is likely to seek fresh custody of Michel or move an application for questioning of the accused alongside the CBI under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Sources said the agency is also preparing a supplementary charge sheet in this case against accused other than Michel.

The ED had filed a charge sheet against Michel in 2016 alleging he received Euro 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland which was nothing but "kickbacks" paid by the firm to execute the deal in its favour.

In its charge sheet, the ED has claimed that money has been laundered through multiple foreign companies which were used as fronts to park alleged kickbacks.

"One channel was handled by middleman Christian Michel James and the other channel was handled by Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke. Gerosa and Haschke in collusion with Tyagi Brothers, cousins of S P Tyagi, conspired with Gautam Khaitan of M/s OP Khaitan and Co, Auditors and Solicitors based at New Delhi," it said.

The ED case is based on a CBI FIR that said there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (around Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal signed by the UPA government in February 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth Euro 556.262 million. The CBI had earlier arrested Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan.

According to the ED, M/s Agusta Westland International Ltd, UK paid an amount of Euro 58 million as kickbacks through M/s Gordian Services Sarl, Tunisia and M/s IDS Sarl, Tunisia for the deal involving 12 VVIP choppers.

"These companies further siphoned off the said money/proceeds of crime in the name of consultancy contracts to M/s Interstellar Technologies Ltd, Mauritius and others, which were further transferred to M/s UHY Saxena, Dubai, M/s Matrix Holdings Ltd. Dubai and others," an ED had earlier said.