AgustaWestland Case: Michel named ‘Mrs Gandhi’ ED tells court, sent to 7 days custody

New Delhi: Enforcement Directorate on Saturday told a Delhi court that Christian Michel, an alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, had named ‘Mrs Gandhi’, but did not specify in which context the reference was made.

“He has also spoken about “the son of the Italian lady” and how he is going to become the “next prime minister of the country”,” told ED’s counsel to the court.

The court later sent Michel to seven-day remand. The court’s decision came following ED’s demand to probe further about the ‘big man’ referred to as ‘R’.

ED argued that there was a need to confront Michel with others to decode some portions of the communications.

“We need to decipher who the “big man” referred to as “R” is in the communication between Christian Michel and other people. We need to confront Michel with other people to decipher who “the big man” or “R” is,” said ED’s counsel.

ED told the court that Michel had identified how Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was removed from the deal and the deal was offered to Tata instead.

ED also sought an order to ban Michel’s lawyer’s access alleging he is being tutored.

Arguing on the charges, Michel’s lawyer Aljo K Joseph told the court that they won’t dispute that he (Christian Michel) had handed them the papers, but it’s the fault of the ED that they allowed it to happen.

Michel’s lawyer also informed the court that his client had a query regarding something and how legal response needs to be given.

“He tried to give us something, we didn’t see what it was, it was immediately pointed out that he was slipping us a paper and paper was taken away,” said Joseph.

After hearing the day’s arguments, the court also ordered Michel’s lawyers to maintain a distance while meeting him.

The court also restricted the time limit of lawyers to meet Michel to 15 minutes every morning and evening.

The AgustaWestland helicopter deal finalised during the previous government 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.