The British High Commission on Wednesday sought consular access to Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman wanted in Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, a day after he was extradited to India from Dubai.
A spokesperson of the high commission said information has been sought from the Indian authorities urgently on Michel’s “circumstances” and that the British government is in contact with his family.
Another official of the high commission, who wished not be named, said consular access to Michel has been sought.
“Our staff continue to support the family of a British man following his detention in the UAE. We are in contact with his family and the Emirati authorities regarding his case, and are urgently seeking information from the Indian authorities on his circumstances,” the spokesperson said.
Escorted by a small convoy of police cars and bikes, Fifty-seven-year old Michel was taken to the CBI headquarters’ lockup at the ground floor of the imposing 11-floor steel and glass building where he reached around 1:20 am on Wednesday. He was questioned about the money trail and identification of documents in the multi-crore rupee deal.
He was then taken to the Patiala House court around 4 pm Wednesday which sent him to five days CBI custody.
In its remand application, the CBI told the court that an amount of 42.27 million euros was paid by the Westland Group of Companies to the firms of Michel as “kickbacks/bribe without undertaking any work against the receipt of such amount”.
The CBI wants to question him to confront him with certain documents and confidential material which he allegedly had sent to his masters in Italy through fax, the agency claimed. It also wants to know how the money, Euro 42.27 million, which was received by Michel’s companies from Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland, was distributed further to establish money trail of alleged bribes paid to swing the Rs. 3,600 crore 12-helicopter deal for VVIP flights, it said.
The agency has alleged that Michel has evaded any probe in the matter which puts him on a different pedestal than Guido Haschke — another middleman — who faced trial in Italy and entered in plea bargain.
The CBI had filed a charge sheet against him in September last year. On the basis of this warrant, a Red Corner Notice was issued by the Interpol which led to his arrest in Dubai in February 2017.
Michel was behind bars in Dubai since he was arrested and sent to custody pending the legal and judicial procedure in the UAE. After the courts cleared his extradition, the UAE government ordered him to be taken to India rejecting his plea that he was a British citizen.
It was alleged that he had entered into a criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons, which included the then IAF chief SP Tyagi and his family members, and the public servants had abused their official positions by reducing service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6,000 million to 4,500 million.
Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
(With agency inputs)