CBI seeks U.K. help to detain Michel

April 27, 2016 02:37 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:03 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

The CBI has sought assistance from the U.K in executing the Interpol Red Notice against British citizen Christian Michel, a prime accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scandal. Though he operates out of Dubai, the agency believes that he is currently in the U.K.

“We have information that he is now in the U.K. and therefore, we have sought help from the authorities there to detain him on the basis of the Interpol Red Notice. He can then be brought to India for interrogation and further legal proceedings,” said a CBI official.

The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are investigating Mr. Michel’s role as an alleged middleman in the Rs.3,700-crore deal. Both the agencies obtained non-bailable warrants against him, on the basis of which the Interpol had issued the Red Notice against him in the last week of November 2015.

Mr. Michel’s name has figured as a “middleman” in the April 7 judgment of the Milan appeal court convicting AgustaWestland chief Giuseppe Orsi of paying bribes to bag the deal for sale of 12 helicopters to the Defence Ministry.

The CBI had, through the Indian government, requested for a certified copy of the judgment for examination and further action. However, the agency on Tuesday refused to comment on whether it would initiate investigations against the Indian nationals whose names figure in the judgment.

Letters rogatory sent

Having received certified documents related to the case from the Italian authorities, the CBI is getting them translated into English.

“Letters Rogatory [judicial requests seeking information] have been sent to eight countries: the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Switzerland, British Virgin Island, Italy, Tunisia and Mauritius. Apart from Italy, complete details have not been received from other countries,” said the CBI official, who informed that the domestic probe in the case had almost been completed.

For its part, the Enforcement Directorate had got translated the Italian papers received through the Defence Ministry.

The agency attached a South Delhi property, a vehicle and a bank account, with Rs. 60 lakh balance, purportedly linked to Mr. Michel. The agency is probing money laundering allegations based on the CBI case registered in March 2013 against former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi, his three cousins and nine others.

The agencies have accused Mr. Michel of working at the behest of accused U.K.-based firm AgustaWestland and its parent Italian major Finmeccanica to route funds to India for bribing government officials. He had allegedly received €30 million for the job.

The ED probe revealed that between 1997 and 2013, Mr. Michel made 300 trips to India, mostly on the pretext of pilgrimage. He usually stayed at a luxury hotel located in Lutyens’ Delhi and also visited Bengaluru and other parts of the country.

The accused flew into the country 20 times in 2011 and 12 times the following year. He made at least three trips in the first two months of 2013 and flew back to Dubai the last time in February, days before the CBI set up an inquiry into bribery allegations.

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