Hours after he was deported to New Delhi from Dubai, Christian Michel, accused and middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam, was on Wednesday produced before a Delhi court which allowed his five-day custodial interrogation. The CBI had sought a 14-day police remand.
Michel will again be produced in the court on December 10. Michel was produced before Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar, who allowed discussion between him and his advocate for five minutes. Michel landed in the national Capital around 11 pm on Tuesday. He was then taken to the CBI headquarters at the Lodhi Road here at 1.30 am.
In its remand application, the CBI submitted that the custodial interrogation of accused Christian Michel is required to unearth the deep-rooted conspiracy and to identify his accomplices, including the IAF officials, bureaucrats and politicians, who were instrumental in changing the decisions, which made AgustaWestland eligible to participate in the bidding process and ultimately bagged it. The CBI submitted the accused has to be confronted with a number of documents.
The counsel for CBI submitted that investigation revealed that Michel had entered into as many as 12 contracts through two of his firms, namely Global Trade Commerce Ltd, London, and Global Services FZE, Dubai, with Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Westland Helicopters, UK among others to legitimise the illicit commission on the procurement of VVIP helicopters by the Ministry of Defence, India.
The CBI also submitted that an amount of Euro 42.27 million was paid by the Westland Group Companies to the firms of accused Christian Michel as kickbacks without undertaking any work against the receipt of such amount.
The counsel for the accused vehemently opposed the remand application saying there is no need for police custody and none of these documents has been produced in any international court.
“Keeping in view the facts and circumstances, submissions made by the parties, I deem it fit to grant 5 days police remand of the accused. Accordingly, the accused is remanded to police custody for 5 days. The CBI shall get the accused medically examined, as per rules. The accused shall also be entitled to get assistance from his advocate during interrogation. The CBI will permit counsel for accused Aljo k Joseph or his associate Vishnu Sankar Sriram Parakkat to assist the accused between 10 am to 11 am and from 5 pm to 6 pm on each day, Special CBI judge Arvind Kumar noted in his order.
Michel’s counsel had also filed an application for bail but sought his application to be kept pending.
CBI sources, meanwhile, said, Michel expressed anxiety last night after which he was examined by doctors who administered him medicines. Subsequently, his mood was elevated and remained jolly through the day. However, he has not been cooperative during the quizzing despite intense grilling by the agency sleuths after he reached the agency headquarters.
Amid the grilling, he slept barely for two hours. After the medication to cure his anxiety, he was subjected to intense grilling about money trail and identification of documents in the mega scam.
Sources said he was allowed to sleep for two hours between 4 am and 6 am on Wednesday before being provided with breakfast. After 6 am, he was again questioned by the officials of the Special Investigation Team of the CBI before being produced in the special court at about 4 pm.
The sources said he is being served normal food from the CBI canteen and provided bottled mineral water.
Michel’s lawyer Aljo k Joseph who was national in-charge for legal department of Indian Youth Congress was expelled later in the evening by the Congress that claimed he appeared as the lawyer of the accused in his personal capacity.
The British High Commission on its part sought consular access to Christian Michel on Wednesday, a day after the British national was brought here from the UAE to face the law enforcement agencies in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal.
A spokesperson of the High Commission said information has been sought from the Indian authorities urgently on Michel’s “circumstances” and that the British Government is in contact with his family.