British businessman, Christian Michel, alleged agent charge-sheeted in the Rs 36billion AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case was allowed by the Indian court for a five-day custodial interrogation by country’s federal investigation agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday (5).
The accused, UK national will be produced before the court again on December 10. The accused was brought to India late Tuesday (5) night after he was extradited by the UAE government in connection with the alleged bribery case.
Michel’s lawyer asked the court to send him to judicial custody, however, countering the argument, CBI sought the court two weeks custodial probe to unearth the truth in connection with the alleged scam.
The court later permitted CBI to question Michel for five days in its custody. The court has also asked the probe agency to provide all relevant documents including charge sheet to the accused.
The accused was also filed a bail petition however, the Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar didn’t provide any specific date for hearing his bail petition. Michel had denied the charges raised by the Indian investigators in connection with AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.
CBI arrested Michel soon after his arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on a Gulfstream jet at 22.35 IST Tuesday. There was tight security arrangements at the Patiala House court complex hours before the production of Michel.
Michel is one among the three middlemen being investigated by country’s federal investigation agencies Enforcement Directorate (ED) and CBI in connection with the case besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
The CBI has alleged that there was an estimated loss of €398.21 million to the exchequer in the agreement that was signed in 2010 to supply VVIP choppers worth €556.262 mn to India.
Michel had obtained €30mn from AgustaWestland, accused ED in its charge sheet filed against Michel in 2016.
According to the charge sheet, the money was nothing but kickbacks received by the accused from the company to complete the deal in favour of the company to supply a dozen choppers to India in the guise of real transactions for completing multiple work contracts in the country.
The ED probe found that the payments made by Michel through his UAE based firm Global Services to a media firm he floated in India along with two Indians, were made from 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.
In 2014 India cancelled the contract with Italian company Finmeccanica’s British branch AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force (IAF) following the alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 4.23bn by it for securing the deal.
The Anglo-Italian company, AgustaWestland, is also one of the accused in the case according to the Indian investigators. The other influential personalities named in the charge sheet are, Sanjeev alias Julie, advocate Gautam Khaitan, alleged European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel, Guido Haschke, former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini, and former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi.
All are charge-sheeted for offences under India’s Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC)in the case relating to alleged bribery of Rs 4.5bn.