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British High Commission seeks consular access to AgustaWestland Christian Michel

AgustaWestland case middleman Christian Michel was sent to 5-day CBI custody on Wednesday.

British High Commission seeks consular access to AgustaWestland Christian Michel

NEW DELHI: The British High Commission on Wednesday sought consular access to Christian Michel, a day after the British national was brought here from the UAE to face allegations of bribery in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, an official said.

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. 

Michel, 57, was brought to India late Tuesday night following his extradition by the United Arab Emirates in connection with the chopper deal case. A court Wednesday sent him to a five-day custody of the CBI, probing the scam.

He is one of the three middlemen, being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. Michel has denied the charges. 

The CBI has alleged there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (approximately Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth Euro 556.262 million.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received EUR 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.

The money was nothing but "kickbacks" paid by the firm to execute the 12 helicopter deal in favour of the firm in the "guise of" genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country, according to the charge sheet.

The ED investigation found that remittances made by Michel through his Dubai-based firm Global Services to a media firm he floated in Delhi, along with two Indians, were made from the funds which he got from AgustaWestland through "criminal activity" and corruption in the chopper deal, which led to the subsequent generation of proceeds of crime.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.