VVIP chopper case: ED arrests ‘middleman’ Christian Michel, gets custody for seven days
Special Central Bureau of Investigation judge Arvind Kumar rejected his bail application.
The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday arrested Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, PTI reported. Special Central Bureau of Investigation judge Arvind Kumar remanded Michel to Enforcement Directorate’s custody for seven days.
Michel was extradited to India on December 4. He was in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation for 15 days.
The court also rejected Michel’s bail application in the case. The Enforcement Directorate arrested him soon after he was produced in the court earlier on Saturday.
The investigating agency sought 15 days custody of Michel to be able to question him about the money laundering aspect of the case, Bar & Bench reported. “We are aware that the investigation leads to €30 million and CBI’s is over €37 million,” DP Singh, special public prosecutor representing the ED said.
Singh said that while the CBI will stop its investigation when it finds the money, the Enforcement Directorate’s job is to investigate the origins of the money.
Michel’s advocate, Vishnu Shankar, argued for a joint investigation by the CBI and ED and objected to him being sent to the Enforcement Directorate’s custody. Shankar claimed that the two investigating agencies were trying to get a confession out of his client.
Singh, however, ruled out the possibility of a joint investigation as they operate in different spheres.
The former Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had signed the Rs 3,565-crore helicopter deal in 2010 with the British-Italian firm AgustaWestland. The deal was put on hold after Italy arrested the head of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland’s parent company, on charges of paying bribes to win the contract. Michel is one of three suspected middlemen who Indian investigative agencies believe brokered the deal.