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During Handshake, Michel Passed Note to Lawyer Asking How to Answer Qs on 'Mrs Gandhi': ED

The ED, in its submission before the court, explained how Michel was transferring the note to his counsel Aljo Joseph.


Updated:December 29, 2018, 11:34 PM IST

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday told a Delhi court that alleged middleman Christian Michel, arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, was taking liberties during his interrogation and was seen passing a note to his lawyer asking how to tackle questions on "Mrs Gandhi".

Michel was produced before a special court which extended his ED custody by seven days.

Michel, who was extradited from Dubai recently, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on December 22 and sent to seven days' custody of the agency over money laundering charges in the scam.

The ED, in its submission before the court, explained how Michel was transferring the note to his counsel Aljo Joseph. During his medical examination, said the ED, Michel stood up and held out his hand towards his lawyer, who was standing next to him, in the way of a handshake. "It was noticed that Christian Michel James secretly handed over a folded paper to his counsel Alio Joseph. Alio Joseph was carrying his mobile phone under which he hid the paper and put the folded paper discreetly in the pocket of (his) jacket," the ED told the court.

The ED then told the court that Joseph was asked to hand the folded paper back.

"Persual of the folded paper revealed that it pertained to a set of questions with regard to follow up questions on Mrs Gandhi. It is clear that there is conspiracy to shield and/tamper the evidence that could be brought forth from the questioning of the accused,” the ED told the court.

The ED further requested the court that the legal access given to the accused is being "misused" and needs to be discontinued.

The BJP has used the extradition of Michel to India to hit out at the Congress as it has often alleged that some leaders of the opposition party were involved in corruption in the VVIP chopper deal.

Weighing in on the subject, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, "We are now getting evidence that show that this theft will be proven and the 'chor' will be caught very soon. All evidence points to one party and one family. The true story of this corruption is coming to the fore."

Joining his colleague in the debate was Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who said, "The Congress needs to answer the public about these allegations."

Hitting out at the BJP, the Congress termed it the actions of a government in its last days.

"There’s brazen and shameless abuse of agencies of the state. The CBI has been wrecked, the ED has no credibility left. These are actions of a government in its dying days. Agencies should act according to the law. There's no prosecution taking place. There's no evidence being produced," said Congress leader Anand Sharma.

Sharma called it "malicious and vicious propaganda". "I have never heard anything more absurd than what I have heard today and that too coming from the ED as claimed before a court. The Modi government is guilty of a malicious and vicious propaganda," said Sharma.

Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

The key issues being investigated by the ED are the modus operandi adopted by the accused to eliminate TATA and HAL from competition in an Italian deal and the steps undertaken to mask the present deal as a British deal instead of an Italian deal to gain advantage in Light Observation Helicopters.

It also includes the modus operandi adopted in managing to influence the German deal and how the accused violated, misused information leading to actions under the Official Secrets Act and to determine if there were any more kickbacks leading to proceeds of crime linked with these activities.

The agency said the questions prepared for Michel have not been answered as he was writing slowly and his statement remains pending on various key aspects which are important for unearthing the entire modus operandi adopted by the accused.

It said it needs to ascertain the quantum of commission which was received by Michel from AgustaWestland and the kickbacks forwarded to other middlemen, IAF official, Indian bureaucrats and politicians and hpw they were routed.

The agency needs to determine the exact quantum of money laundered through Media Exim Pvt Ltd, the roles of co-accused/ other aides and for unearthing the proceeds of crime parked through this channel.

The ED, in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received Euro 30 million - about Rs 225 crore - from AgustaWestland.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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