NEW DELHI: The CBI on Tuesday opposed VVIP helicopter scam accused Christian Michel James’ bail plea and made a significant statement before the Supreme Court that bribes were paid to a family in India apart from IAF officers, ministry of defence officials, bureaucrats and politicians to clinch the deal in favour of AgustaWestland.
Citing repeated rejection of his bail pleas by all courts given the gravity of the offences he is accused of, the CBI cited documents received from Italy and Switzerland through Rogatory channel contained a payment sheet written by Guido Ralph Haschke on dictation by Michel in connection with the deal, which was awarded to AgustaWestland in 2010 by UPA government.
“As per the payment sheet… an amount of 30 million Euro was paid/proposed to be paid to officers of IAF, MoD, bureaucrats, politicians and (a) family in India for getting favour in VVIP helicopter deal,” the CBI said in its affidavit.
The premier investigating agency said Michel is a British national with no roots in India and is a flight risk. “He enjoys close proximity with certain influential and powerful persons and is likely to tamper with evidence and influence the witnesses. He has deep nexus and influence, which has not fully unravelled yet, and has inroads in bureaucracy/executive,” the CBI said.
The ED too maintained a similar stand while opposing Michel’s bail and cited a 2018 order of the Special CBI Judge taking note of the accused attempting to pass confidential papers to his counsel, who was given access to him during custodial interrogation immediately after his extradition from Dubai in December 2018.
SC had on April 22, 2020, rejected Michel’s interim bail plea on the ground of spread of coronavirus infections inside jail. However, it had sought responses from the CBI and ED on his plea for regular bail. He had argued that since the trial is lingering and that he had nearly three and half years in jail, which is more than half of the period of imprisonment that could be awarded to him if convicted in the offences alleged to have committed by him.
On a complaint of the ministry of defence, the CBI had registered a case in March 2013 about alleged irregularities and corruption in purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland, UK, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, Italy. It had registered the Regular Case (RC) against ex-Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi and others.
In July 2014, the ED registered a case under PMLA for alleged payment of kickbacks by AgustaWEstland to the tune of 70 million Euros, which was allegedly laundered by two chains of fund transfers, one headed by Christian Michel James and the other by Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, middlemen engaged by AgustaWestland.
ED alleged that 28 million Euros were transferred to Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, out of which 12.4 million Euros were deposited in the bank accounts of Interstellar Technologies Ltd in Mauritius belonging to Rajiv Saxena.