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A Special Court at Patiala House today sent British businessman Christian Michel, the middleman in the Agusta Westland scam, to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody for five days.
The order was passed by Special CBI judge Arvind Kumar after Michel was produced before him by the agency.
Michel was extradited from Dubai yesterday, and was arrested by the CBI upon his arrival in New Delhi last night.
Special Prosecutor DP Singh had pressed for fourteen days’ police custody of Christian Michel. He informed the Court that the agency has information of “classified material”, and thus sought for a custodial interrogation to take the investigation in the Agusta Westland chopper scam further.
“We need to confront him with the evidence. We have to know the details of where the money has been spent and who has received it. We need to discover the money trail and the people involved”, Singh said.
CBI informed the Court that Michel had entered into as many as 12 contracts with AugustaWestland through two of his firms to legitimize the illicit commission on the procurement of VVIP Helicopters by the Ministry of Defence, India.
It was further submitted that an amount of Euro 42.27 million was paid by the Westland Group Companies to the firms of Michel as kickbacks.
Advocate Aljo K Joseph, along with advocates Sriram P and Vishnu Shankar, appearing for Michel, objected to his client being sent to police custody and requested for judicial custody instead.
Judge Kumar, however, granted the CBI five days’ custody of Michel.
The Court also allowed Michel’s lawyers to speak to him every day for an hour each in the morning and the evening.
Interestingly, Joseph is the National In-charge of Indian Youth Congress’ legal department. Joseph’s appearance for Michel in the UPA-era scam has thus raised many eyebrows.
In his post on social media, the Advocate has however clarified that he represented Michel in his personal capacity as a lawyer.
“It has nothing to do with the Congress Party . As a professional and a practicing lawyer, I have appeared.“, his statement reads.
Michel will be produced before the CBI Court next on December 10.
Read the order: