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VVIP chopper case | Security tightened at Delhi's Patiala Court ahead of Christian Michel's hearing

Michel, who was brought to Delhi from Dubai by CBI team will be produced before special judge Arvind Kumar, news agency ANI reported.

Edited by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: December 05, 2018 17:14 IST ]
Michel, who was brought to Delhi from Dubai by CBI team

Michel, who was brought to Delhi from Dubai by CBI team will be produced before special judge Arvind Kumar, news agency ANI reported.

 

British businessman Christian James Michel, the alleged middleman in the multimillion-dollar AgustaWestland helicopter deal will be produced in the Patiala Court on Wednesday. Michel, who was brought to Delhi from Dubai by CBI team will be produced before special judge Arvind Kumar, news agency ANI reported.

Security has been tightened at the Patiala House court complex ahead of the hearing. Around 15-20 personnel of the CRPF and 30 Delhi Police officials have been deputed in the court complex as well as outside several of its gates, said one of the police officials.

The police force, include presence of women officials.

The operation code-named 'Unicorn' was carried out under the guidance of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and being coordinated by interim CBI Director M Nageswar Rao. A team of the agency's officers led by Joint Director Sai Manohar was in Dubai to bring him back.

Earlier on Tuesday, the CBI said that Michel has been brought back to India after completion of the extradition process.

ALSO READ | Extradition of middleman Christian Michel has come just at the right time for BJP

The UAE government had cleared the extradition of 57-year-old Michel after his appeal against the move was turned down by a court there.

His alleged involvement in the chopper deal surfaced in 2012 as a middleman for swinging the deal in favour of AgustaWestland and for making illegal payment of commissions or kickbacks to the Indian authorities. A charge sheet was filed against him in September last year.

Michel was behind bars in Dubai since he was arrested and sent to custody pending the legal and judicial procedure in the UAE.

The AgustaWestland case involves a deal to purchase 12 luxury helicopters for use by President, Prime Minister, former prime ministers and other VIPs. Michel was arrested in UAE last year on the basis of an Interpol notice and was out on bail. 

It was alleged that Michel 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 metres to 4,500 metres.

ALSO READ | ‘Middleman’ Christian James Michel extradited to India in operation under NSA Ajit Doval's guidance, says CBI

The reduction in ceiling made AgustaWestland eligible for contract worth 556.262 million Euros, which was awarded to it by the Defence Ministry on February 08, 2010, for procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters.

He has been alleged to be a "historical consultant" of the AgustaWestland helicopters in the UK with technical operational knowledge of the aircraft, the military bases and the pilots, the CBI spokesperson said in a statement.

Michel worked with the company since the 1980s and before that his father had also been a consultant of the company for the Indian territory, the statement said.

He was allegedly a frequent visitor to India and was operating as a middleman for defence procurement through a wide network of sources cultivated in the IAF and the Defence Ministry at different levels, including through retired and serving IAF officials, the agency said.

Michel allegedly shared the information collected from the IAF and the ministry with his associates, who used to transmit the despatches through fax to other counterparts sitting in Italy and Switzerland, the CBI said.

"...He was updating and informing the management of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland, namely Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini and others, about his efforts in India for securing supply contract of VVIP Helicopters," the statement said.

In July 2006, AgustaWestland's commercial manager Renzo Lunardi had proposed that Michel will join other middlemen Ralph Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa in carrying out "scouting and monitoring activities" with regard to the acquisition of helicopters in India, keeping in view of his "knowledge of Indian military operational mechanism", it said.

During that meeting in Italy, they had negotiated a comprehensive fee equal to 7 per cent of the supply contract amount to cover the expenses and their payments.

Michel allegedly entered into 12 contracts through two of his firms -- London-based Global Trade and Commerce and Dubai-based Global Services FZE -- with Finmeccanica to camouflage and legitimise the alleged bribe received by him for clinching the deal, the CBI said.

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