December 22: Turning the hopes of freedom into disappointment a Delhi court on Saturday sent Christian Michel, one of the alleged middleman in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, to seven days custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The orders of Special Judge Arvind Kumar came while dismissing the bail plea of Christian Michel, pertaining to the CBI case, arrested in the Rs. 36,000 crore scam of VVIP chopper. On December 19, the court reserved order over Michel's bail plea for December 22.
The Court said,
"Considering the overall facts and circumstances, serious nature of allegations, gravity of offence and the fact that investigation is at a crucial stage, I do not consider it to be a fit case for grant of bail."
Before this, Christian Michel was under judicial custody of CBI and was lodged in Tihar jail. He had also moved an application yesterday, seeking a separate cell in the Jail on the ground that other prisoners were asking inconvenient questions to him.
The ED sought Michel's custody in a money laundering case following which the Court gave liberty to the ED to interrogate him first for 15 minutes in the courtroom. During the course of proceedings ED while seeking his custody said,
"We are two different agencies. It's impossible to have a joint investigation in the ambit of the law. We need to stand on our own feet. "
The probing agency ED, investigating money laundering case against Michel in its charge sheet had claimed that Michel in June 2016, had received about Rs. 225 crore from AgustaWestland deal.
He is accused of entering into a criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons, including the then IAF chief SP Tyagi and his kin.
Christian Michel was professedly 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.
Michel is one of the three middlemen probed in the AgustaWestland chopper case, apart from Italian Guido Haschke (US and Italian nationality) and Carlo Gerosa (Swiss and Italian nationality) and he was extradited after a long legal battle from Dubai on December 4, 2018.
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.
ED claimed that, "The money came and has been used through a hawala channel. It has not come through official channel.......Both channels -- one channel through which money came and the other through which it was used -- have to be unearthed. Money trail has to be identified. The nexus of Guido Haschke, Carlo Gerosa and Gautam Khaitan (the other accused) also have to be unearthed."
However, Aljo K Joseph, Michel's counsel, opposed the 15-day custody application moved by ED stating that after his prolonged detention by the CBI and his further custody will be against his fundamental right.
The CBI was also pursuing the case and had arrested former Indian Air Force Chief S.P. Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan in 2017.