A Delhi court has issued production warrant against middleman Christian Michel, who is among the key accused in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case. He was extradited from the UAE in December last year and is in judicial custody. The production warrant is an order issued by a criminal court of law to produce a person before the court in connection with criminal proceedings pending against him.
The move follows the ED petition in the court in December last year for further investigation. Meanwhile, the enforcement sleuths has attached Michel’s ex-wife Paris-based property worth Rs 5.83 crore.
“ED has provisionally attached immovable property in France in the name of M/s SCI Solaime situated at 45 Avenue Victor Hugo, Paris belonging to his ex-wife Mrs. Valerie Michel who had received Proceeds of Crime from the accused, an ED source confirmed.
According to the source, Christian Michele James is a middleman who received kickbacks from the VVIP Chopper deal to the tune of Euro 42 million. During the course of investigation, it was seen that funds were transferred from Dubai-based companies to various entities.
According to the ED, Christian Michel had transferred the amount received as kickbacks to various entities, including his ex-wife Valerie Michel and subsequently to M/s SCI Solaime for investment in purchase of above referred immovable property.
Further, probe to identify the remaining proceeds is underway, said the source.
India had entered into an agreement with AgustaWestland to supply 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to ferry VVIP passengers. The deal was cancelled by India in 2014 over bribery allegations. Michel is an accused in the case along with others including former Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief SP Tyagi.
Meanwhile, the enforcement sleuths sought the production warrant for corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar. He is also in the judicial custody for allegedly acted as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines, causing loss to national carrier Air India. ED had arrested Talwar in the money laundering case for diverting Rs 90 crore worth of foreign funds meant for ambulance received by his NGO from a leading missile manufacturing company based in Europe. ED also found his connection in various aviation deal which are currently under probe.
Talwar had claimed that his arrest and custody from January 30 onwards was illegal detention and files habeas corpus plea in the court.
In response to that ED said that he was in custody pursuant to a valid remand order passed by a competent court, the jurisdiction of which was not in question, and hence the habeas corpus writ was not maintainable. A writ of habeas corpus is a court order to a person or agency holding someone in custody (such as a warden) to deliver the imprisoned individual to the court issuing the order and to show a valid reason for that person's detention.