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Britain Middleman Christian Michel in Indian court, sent to 5-day CBI custody

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which arrested Michel at IGI Airport in Delhi late Tuesday night, produced him before special court in Patiala House court complex on Wednesday after over 12 hours of interrogation.
 
A Special CBI court in Delhi on Wednesday sent Christian Michel to a 5-day CBI custody, a day after the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal was brought to India from Dubai.
 
Seeking custody of Michel, the CBI told the court that the investigation in VVIP chopper scam was going on and the agency needed his custody as money was transferred in two Dubai based accounts.
 
“We need his police custody to confront him with some important documents,” CBI Counsel Advocate DP Singh told the court.
 
Michel, a British citizen, also moved a bail plea. The court kept this bail plea pending for next hearing and remanded him to 5-day CBI custody.
 
The court of Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar also allowed his counsel one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening for consultancy. Earlier, security was tightened at the Patiala House court complex where Michel was produced. He was brought to India late Tuesday night following his extradition by the UAE in connection with the case.
 
Around 15-20 personnel of the CRPF and 30 Delhi Police officials have been deputed in the court complex as well as outside several of its gates, said one of the police officials.
 
Michel, 54, landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on a Gulfstream jet at 10.35 pm Tuesday night after which he was arrested by the CBI in connection with the case.
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. However, Michel had denied the charges.
 
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.
 
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.
 
The CBI on September 1, 2017, had filed a charge sheet in the case in which Michel was named as one of the accused.
 
Former IAF Chief S P 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.
 
Tyagi (73) is the first chief of the Indian Air Force to be chargesheeted in a corruption or a criminal case by the CBI and he has denied all charges against him.
 
Besides him, the agency has also chargesheeted retired Air Marshal JS Gujral along with eight others, including five foreign nationals, in the charge sheet filed before the Special CBI Judge.
 
Anglo-Italian company, AgustaWestland, is also one of the accused. Earlier 3rd week in September 2018 according to news agency Reuter an appeals court in Milan said ” There was no corruption in the deal for 12 AgustaWestland choppers for Indian VVIPs, an Italian court ruled on Saturday. “There is, conclusively, no evidence of the corrective agreement stipulated according to the imputation, with the foreign public official, just as it requires the incriminating law .”

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