Christen Michel Sent to 7 Days ED Custody, Bail Plea Rejected
The court had reserved the order on Michel's bail plea on December 19 and had sent him to judicial custody till December 28.
New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday sent Christian Michel, alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, to seven days custody of the Enforcement Directorate.
Michel was earlier arrested in the Rs 36,000 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case by the CBI.
The ED told the court that it needed time to complete the remaining investigations.
It told the court that Michel has invested crores of rupees in properties in Delhi alone and it requires to know the source of the money. "The money has not come through official channels, but through hawala transactions", the ED said.
"We need to confront Christian Michel with some witnesses who are not CBI witnesses. This is the only time we can do it," a senior public prosecutor said.
Michel was arrested in a money laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) earlier on Saturday and had sought his 15-day custody.
Michel was arrested in the UAE and extradited to India on December 4. He was then produced before the court, which allowed his five-day custodial interrogation by the CBI. It was extended by five more days, and later for another four days.
A CBI court on Wednesday had sent Christian Michel to judicial custody until 28 December. Michel’s 15-day police custody ended on Wednesday.
“Little progress” has been made during the interrogation so far, with the CBI still trying to solve the mystery around diary entries that could potentially implicate senior leaders of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime, according to persons familiar with the developments.
The CBI remained tight-lipped about the extent of Michel’s cooperation during the investigation.
However, the Counsel for Michel strongly argued against the ED custody and stated that "they never sought joint investigation when Michel was in CBI custody for 15 days”.
Advocate Vishnu Shankar for Michel said that as a party before Italian Court, "Indian authorities did not co-operate" and that the CBI and the ED "were only looking at a forceful confession."
Shankar further contended that that all documents have already been procured from the Italian and Swiss Courts.
"Procedural tools should not be used to keep him under prolonged custody," argued Shankar.
The AgustaWestland case refers to a deal for 12 luxury choppers for use by the President, Prime Minister and other VIPs when the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government was in power. India is investigating charges that Michel organized bribes to push a Rs 3,600 crore contract for the helicopters.
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