December 5: A Delhi Court Special judge Arvind Kumar today, sent Christian Michel, a British national and one of the three main accused middlemen in the Rs. 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, to five-day CBI custody.
During the course of proceedings, CBI urged for his police custody saying, "We need his police custody to confront him with some important documents."
He was accused in a scam that took place during the UPA rule and extradited to India for the same from the United Arab Emirates on December 4.
He was escorted to the Central Bureau of Investigation headquarters by a team of Delhi Police officials for interrogation. He was arrested by the Dubai Police in 2017 citing an Interpol Red Notice issued against him.
He was produced in court today. Michel, on his arrival in India, was taken to the CBI headquarters for questioning in the matter.
It was alleged that Michel had entered into a criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons, including the then IAF chief SP Tyagi and his kin. Christian Michel was hired by AgustaWestland for the purpose of influencing top officials in IAF and the-then UPA government in order to bag the Rs. 3,600 crore deal for the company.
The government officials involved in the deal had abused their power by reducing the service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres, during the tenure of Manmohan Singh-led UPA government.
In February 2010, the Congress-led UPA government, entered into a contract with AgustaWestland, a UK-based helicopter manufacturing company in order to purchase 12 AW- 101 helicopters for the Indian Air Force(IAF) for Rs 3,600 crore. The helicopters were supposed for the Communication Squadron of Indian Air Force to carry the President, Prime Minister and other VVIPs.
In 2013, following the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, the CEO of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland's parent company, by Italian authorities, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony ordered a probe into the contract, which indicted James for the offences of international bribery and corruption,
However, in 2014, India scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers over breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks of Rs. 423 crore paid by it to win the deal.
It was alleged that the politicians and officials as well, accepted bribes from AgustaWestland in order to win the Rs. 36 billion Indian contracts for the supply of 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters, which were intended to perform VVIP duties for the President of India and other important state officials.
Another contention also surfaced that technical specifications of the choppers were also tweaked by reducing their service ceiling from 6,000m to 4,500m. The alleged compromise was also done to help AgustaWestland to win the bid.
The ED, registered a case in 2014 and had named 21 people, including a former IAF chief. During the course of the investigation, it connected the dots of the money trail that was used to route the kickbacks to the beneficiaries of the scam.
The CBI was also pursuing the case and arrested former Indian Air Force Chief S.P. Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan in 2017.
The CBI claimed that there was an estimated loss of approximately Rs. 2,666 crore to the exchequer in the deal and further that out of the total deal, around 12% was paid in bribes.
In 2017, the CBI had also filed a formal chargesheet against S.P. Tyagi and nine others.
The probing agencies ED, as well as CBI, also concluded that besides Michel, other two alleged middlemen are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, having involvement in the deal.