AgustaWestland case: Christian Michel sent to ED custody

New Delhi: Delhi’s Patiala House Court on Saturday sent Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in AgustaWestland deal, to Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) custody for seven days.

The court also dismissed the bail plea of the British national, who was arrested on December 5 after being extradited to India from Dubai. He was later sent to Central Bureau of Investigation custody.

During the course of hearing, ED’s counsel DP Singh said: “We are aware of the investigation of 30 million Euros. The CBI investigation is of about 37.5 million Euros. We have to cover that gap. Two of the properties totaling about Rs 6 crore have been bought from the remaining amount.”

Terming the scam a case of money laundering, the ED alleged that the money had come through ‘hawala’ channel and not official channels and Michel has some leads, which can help in the investigations.

Opposing the ED, Michel’s counsel Alio K Joseph said: “The ED didn’t try to question him while he was in the custody of the CBI. We are filing all the documents related to his financial transaction.”

“Indian authorities are again asking for the custody for his confession. All the documents have already been collected by the Italian government. They have not done any investigation by themselves,” Joseph added.

The AgustaWestland helicopter deal finalised during the UPA regime headed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh got mired in the allegations of kickbacks.

According to the ED charge sheet, Michel had received kickbacks to the tune of 30 million Euros from AgustaWestland for the deal involving the purchase of 12 VIP helicopters. The deal, signed in 2007, was scrapped in 2013 following the bribery allegation.