CBI approves consular access to Christian Michel

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday approved the British High Commission’s request for consular access to Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper scandal, who was sent to five days in CBI custody today.

Michel’s legal counsel in India, Aljo Joseph”>Aljo Joseph, will be allowed to visit twice every day for 30 minutes. The CBI, however, had sought the court’s approval for Michel’s lawyers to visit once a day.

Joseph had requested the court to approve the visit of Rose Marie Patrici, the lawyer who holds the power of attorney over Michel, as she needs to meet the Briton in order to hand over certain documents. With the CBI opposed to the plea, the court said the matter will be decided when Patrici is present in the court.

The court also directed the Briton’s counsel to file a reply within a day regarding the CBI’s application seeking a specimen of Michel’s handwriting and signature. The court is slated to hear the application tomorrow.

Earlier today, Michel’s custody with the CBI was extended by another five days. While Michel had filed a fresh bail plea in the court today, the CBI had sought a nine-day remand for the British national, who was extradited to India from the UAE on December 4 after the Dubai Cassation Court approved his extradition on November 19.

Michel was earlier sent to five-day CBI custody on December 5.

The CBI also claimed that Michel was not cooperating with the ongoing investigation into the Rs 3,600 crore chopper deal. “We need to confront him with LR (letters rogatory) that have been received from five countries and Christian Michel didn’t co-operate with Italian investigation in the case,” the CBI said.

The Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal, finalised during the government of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was mired in allegations of kickbacks. 54-year-old Michel is an accused in the case along with former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, among others.

According to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) charge sheet filed in a court here two years ago, Michel had received kickbacks to the tune of 30 million Euros from AgustaWestland for the deal involving a purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters. The deal, signed in 2007, was scrapped in 2013 following the bribery allegations.