New Delhi: In a major development in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, a Delhi court on Thursday issued fresh open-ended non-bailable warrant (NBW) against British national Christian Michel James.
The court also issued summons against a company and two other accused in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal.
Special Judge Arvind Kumar issued the fresh arrest warrant against James after Public Prosecutor Navin Kumar Matta urged for the open-ended non-bailable warrant against James since he is staying abroad.
After considering a supplementary charge sheet in the case, the court issued summonses against Delhi-based Media Exim Pvt. Ltd. and its Directors R.K. Nanda and former Director J.B. Subramaniyam under Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and fixed January 7 for next hearing.
The court said there is prima facie sufficient evidence on the involvement of accused in the case.
The company will be represented by authorised representative.
ED had filed a fresh chargesheet against James
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) in June filed a fresh charge sheet against James and three others, including the company, in its ongoing money laundering probe in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal.
The ED counsel told the court there is enough evidence against the accused to initiate proceedings.
According to the ED, Media Exim is a shell company of James and incorporated for facilitating transactions of kickbacks.
The agency is said to have found that of the alleged kickbacks received by James, Rs 6.33 crore was routed to India through his shell company Media Exim from his Dubai-based Global Services FZE.
Christian Michel James
James allegedly received around Rs 225 crore as kickbacks from AgustaWestland for the deal inked for the purchase of 12 helicopters in the guise of transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country.
"Nanda and Subramaniyam were appointed Directors of Media Exim Pvt. Ltd., who willingly and knowingly connived with James and helped him in acquiring various immovable and movable properties or assets in Delhi, which have already been attached," the ED said.
James was accused of playing the middleman in this deal and paid kickbacks by Finmeccanica, a group firm of AgustaWestland.
James and two other alleged middlemen Guido Ralph Haschke and Carlo Gerosa have been named as accused in separate investigations conducted by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Both the agencies have also notified an Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) against James after a city court issued non-bailable warrant against him.
An Italian court revealed that James, a resident of London, was working as consultant in India for AugustaWestland's AWA101 helicopter deal. Investigators said James is currently staying in Dubai where he has been running his companies.
The first charge sheet was filed in the case in November 2014 against businessman Gautam Khaitan, his wife Ritu, Chandigarh-based firm Aeromatrix and two alleged Italian middlemen Gerosa and Haschke.
The charge sheet disclosed that the three alleged middlemen managed to make inroads into the Indian Air Force to influence and subvert the stand of the air force regarding reducing the service ceiling of helicopters from 6,000-metres to 4,500 metres in 2005 after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply a dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties.