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Agusta Westland Accused Christian Michel Not Cooperating In Investigation, At Flight Risk: CBI Opposes Bail In Delhi High Court

Suhavi Arya
12 Jan 2022 2:20 PM GMT
Agusta Westland Accused Christian Michel Not Cooperating In Investigation, At Flight Risk: CBI Opposes Bail In Delhi High Court
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The Central Bureau of Investigation has opposed the application moved by Christian Michel, accused in connection with Augusta Westland case, seeking bail from the Delhi High Court.Senior Advocate D. P. Singh appearing for the agency submitted that Michel acted as a middleman, received money pursuant to certain contracts concerning the scam, and is not cooperating in the...

The Central Bureau of Investigation has opposed the application moved by Christian Michel, accused in connection with Augusta Westland case, seeking bail from the Delhi High Court.

Senior Advocate D. P. Singh appearing for the agency submitted that Michel acted as a middleman, received money pursuant to certain contracts concerning the scam, and is not cooperating in the investigation.

Singh referred to Michel's deposition before a Court in Milan, which found that he had signed 'sham contracts' as an authorized Agusta Westland middleman, to cover the money trail. The Counsel argued that part of the money was received by him, before 2010 and partly after 2010.

He elaborated that there have been two instances where the petitioner has received payments. Furthermore, Rajiv Saxena, along with Gautam Khaitan, Deepak Goyal conspired with the Petitioner in furtherance of the same and facilitated in money laundering.

Justice Manoj Ohri, hearing the bail plea, has directed the agency to file a written format and explain the international money flow on the next date of hearing.

Michel has approached the High Court following rejection of his bail plea by a local Court. Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar had turned down his bail plea saying, "No case is made out for grant of bail on medical ground."

Advocate Aljo K Joseph appearing for Michel pointed out that he has already spent three years in judicial custody and that the maximum imprisonment for his charges, if found guilty is of five years.

Today, Joseph submitted that while the Government or the ED may claim that the petitioner was allegedly paid as a consultant, but the Casana report stated that there is no link and no money exchange between Agusta Westland and the petitioner and there has been no recovery from him. Furthermore, the Italian court also found no money trial and thereby acquitted everyone including the petitioner.

Singh on the other hand pressed that Michel has been charged with serious offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 and under for Criminal conspiracy and Cheating under the Indian Penal Code. Further, considering that he is a British National, with no roots in India, was extradited from Dubai in December 2018- he is a flight risk.

He further asserted that Michel did not voluntarily participate in the Trial in India, and displayed a similar attitude even in Italy.

Significantly, CBI has also filed an supplementary chargesheet against Michel.

The move was opposed by Michel's counsel who submitted that under Section 21 of Extradition Act 1962, a supplementary charge sheet with additional charge (under Section 468- Forgery for purpose of cheating) cannot be used to prosecute the accused of a subsequent offence, after the accused has been extradited.

However, Singh claimed that the offences in the supplementary charge sheet are same, but are based on further investigation and disclosure.

The matter will now be heard on January 14.

The charge-sheet against Michel was filed in 2017 after which he was arrested in December 2018 after being extradited from Dubai. He is allegedly termed as a 'Middleman' for the illegal transactions that took place in the VVIP chopper scam.

The CBI had alleged that there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (about 2666 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.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had then filed a chargesheet against Mr. Michel in June, 2016, alleging that he had received EUR 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from Agusta Westland.

Case Title: Christian Michel James v. Directorate of Enforcement

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