India

VVIP chopper case accused Christian Michel sent to 5-day CBI custody: 15 key points

Christian Michel is one of the three alleged middlemen being examined in the case, along with Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

New Delhi: Christian James Michel, 57, the alleged middleman who has been chargesheeted in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, was on Wednesday sent to five-day CBI custody by a Delhi court.
He will again be produced in the court on December 10. Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar said he can meet his lawyers for an hour, twice every day.

Key points:

  1. Michel, who is a citizen of United Kingdom, was brought to India late on 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 on Tuesday night after which he was arrested by the CBI.
  2. Michel was earlier taken to CBI headquarters following a medical check-up after being brought to India, in a move that many see as a significant win for the Indian government. He reached the CBI headquarters at 1:38am.
  3. The extradition coincides with a visit to the UAE by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. Both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have filed cases against him. The move is even more significant because Michel is a British national being extradited to India from Dubai.
  4. Last month, the Dubai Cassation Court effectively ended the legal challenge to Michel’s extradition by upholding an appellate court’s decision to extradite him though he pleaded ‘not guilty’.
  5. 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.
  6. The court asked the CBI to provide all relevant documents including the charge sheet to Michel.
  7. A bail plea was also moved on his behalf. The court did not give any specific date for hearing the bail plea.
  8. PM Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the British national will now reveal “secrets” of politicians he served. “He was a middleman of England, who was living in Dubai. He used to serve the friends of ‘namdaar’ in Dubai. The government has brought him to India. This ‘razdar’ will reveal the secrets. Don’t know where and how far it will go,” he said.
  9. Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being the “protector, benefactor and promoter” of AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica, the Congress on Wednesday demanded a CBI probe into Modi’s role in “exonerating” the Italian defence and aerospace major which was blacklisted by the UPA. “Modi government and its agencies were forcing Michel to sign a false confessional statement naming UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in return for complete exoneration from any charge whatsoever in the AgustaWestland Case,” Congress spokesperosn Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
  10. 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. Michel had denied the charges.
  11. 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.
  12. The Enforcement Directorate (ED), in its chargesheet 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 the “guise of” genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country, according to the charge sheet.
  13. 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 in the chopper deal, which led to the subsequent generation of proceeds of crime.
  14. 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.
  15. The CBI on September 1, 2017, had filed a chargesheet in the case in which Michel was named as one of the accused. Former IAF Chief SP Tyagi 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.
    (With PTI inputs)
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