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Christian Michel spent over ₹12 crore on flight tickets: ED

British national and alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter bribery case Christian Michel is pictured outside a Delhi court on December 5, 2018.

British national and alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter bribery case Christian Michel is pictured outside a Delhi court on December 5, 2018.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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They were allegedly bought between April 2007 and March 2013; ED records statement of travel agency owner.

A frequent flyer to India, British national Christian James Michel had allegedly spent more than ₹12 crore on international and domestic air travel tickets bought in his name and that of his various contacts, through a Delhi-based agency whose owner was also roped in by him to float a “shell” company.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has recorded a statement of the travel agency’s owner under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He told the ED that his company had received about ₹10.84 crore from Mr. Michel’s Dubai-based firm Global Services FZE between April 2007 and March 2013 for air tickets.

The tickets were bought allegedly on the “telephonic instructions” of the accused and their copies were sent to him through e-mail. The travel agency was also paid over ₹1.66 crore through Media Exim for air tickets. This company was incorporated by the agency owner in 2005, allegedly at Mr. Michel’s instance. Media Exim receive more than ₹6.3 crore via Global Services’ Dubai accounts between 2005 and 2007.

The funds sent on the pretext of music CD and jewellery exports were used to buy five immoveable properties, including two in Delhi and one in Gurugram. Jewellery worth ₹4.72 crore was bought and then sold for ₹5.6 crore. Luxury vehicles were also purchased.

In 2012, as disclosed by the travel agency owner, he received instructions from Mr. Michel to dispose of the properties bought through Media Exim. Four of the immoveable assets were liquidated. Over ₹6.3 crore was sent back to the Global Services’ accounts.

 

The ED found that during his visits to India, Mr. Michel stayed in various Delhi hotels, including one located in the posh Lutyens’ zone. An enquiry with the hotel authorities led it to a resident of Sainik Farm, through whom they identified a retired Major-General who was in regular touch with Mr. Michel. The Major-General, who allegedly knew Mr. Michel for the past over two decades, told the investigators about Mr. Michel’s local address in Safdarjung Enclave.

Tyagi kin identified

Another person who worked as a driver for the accused was also located. The driver’s statement turned out to be crucial. He allegedly identified former Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev, also an accused in the case, as the person who had met three of the Mr. Michel’s associates at a Sainik Farm bungalow in 2008, according to the Directorate.

The documents shared by Italy with the Indian agencies on Mr. Michel, who is now in the CBI’s custody, have revealed that the two main contracts were signed between him through Global Services and AgustaWestland in 2010.

The first agreement was signed on March 1, 2010, and the other on May 26 the same year, with regard to advising and assisting the group company in all aspects of performing the contract in Indian territory. Global Services, located in the Dubai Airport Free Zone, is a long-time agent for sale of the AgustaWestland spare parts in India, as submitted by the ED in the court.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 3:14:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/christian-michel-spent-over-12-crore-on-flight-tickets-ed/article25674303.ece

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