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AgustaWestland case: Non-bailable warrant issued against middleman Christian Michel

James Michel's name has been linked as the middleman in the VVIP chopper scam

By: PTI | New Delhi |
January 7, 2017 2:28:52 pm
agustawestland, VVIP chopper scam, agusta scam, agusta westland scam, christian michel, agusta westland case ED had stated that Michel had allegedly received 30 million euros as kickbacks and sent cash packets to various people through his driver and regularly met Indian individuals, including cousins of former IAF chief S P Tyagi. (File)

A special court today issued fresh summons against three accused in a money laundering case related to the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal in which it had earlier issued an open-ended non-bailable warrant (NBW) against British national and alleged middleman Christian Michel James. Special Judge Arvind Kumar re-issued the summons against India-based firm M/s Media Exim Private Limited and its directors R K Nanda and J B Subramaniyam while asking them to be present in court on February 22. The firm was set up by James, Nanda and Subramaniyam.

The court passed the order after advocate N K Matta, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, informed it that the summons issued against the three accused on the last date of hearing could not be executed. It had on November 31 last year issued an open-ended NBW against James and summons against other three accused in the case, saying, “There is prima facie evidence against the accused.” The NBW was issued against James after ED had told the court that the alleged middleman was out of India and pressed for an arrest warrant against him to bring him here to face the trial. An open-ended NBW (arrest warrant) does not carry a time limit for its execution.

In June last year, ED had filed a 1,300-page prosecution complaint (equivalent for charge sheet) in connection with its money laundering probe in the case. It had said the agency’s investigation into the case had found that James allegedly received Euro 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from M/s AgustaWestland which was nothing but “kickbacks” paid by the firm to execute the deal for sale of 12 helicopters to India in favour of the firm in “guise” of genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country.

James is one of the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case, apart from Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by ED and CBI. Both the agencies have also notified an Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) or the global arrest warrant against James after a court had earlier also issued an NBW against him. The present complaint delved into the alleged detailed role of James in the deal, his multiple visits to India and his transactions. The first complaint in the case was filed in November 2014. According to sources, ED has already sought James’ extradition from the UK.

In the this complaint, the agency has also claimed that the three middlemen “managed” to make inroads into the Indian Air Force in order to influence and subvert the stand of the force regarding reducing the service ceiling — the altitude at which a helicopter can fly —- from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres in 2005 after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the choppers for VVIP flying duties.

It said that remittances made by James through his Dubai- based firm Ms Global Services, FZE to a media firm he floated in Delhi, along with two Indians, were made from the funds which he got from Ms AgustaWestland SpA through “criminal activity” and corruption being done in the chopper deal that led to the subsequent generation of proceeds of crime.

Former IAF chief S P Tyagi was granted bail on December 26 last year while his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were granted the relief on January 4 by the court in a separate case filed by CBI in connection to the same deal. The agency had arrested all the three accused on December 9 last year.

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