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AgustaWestland Case: Christian Michel received money from other defence deals, routed money through hawala, says ED

Christian Michel is accused of money laundering, bribery, and fraud in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore worth AgustaWestland scam.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has accused the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, Christian Michel of accepting money from various other defence deals, reported Times of India.

According to the report, the ED on Saturday told the court that Christian Michel received 24.25 million euros and 1,60,96,245 pounds from the AgustaWestland deal. The ED further added that during the interrogation Michel revealed that he had received money from other defence deals as well.

The ED agency also told the court that the “accused routed money through ‘hawala’ operators for acquiring cash and for the purchase of property”. The ED has identified the properties, it said. The court has now sent him to judicial custody till February 27.

The ED added that it had investigated how money was transferred through ‘hawala’ and multiple bank accounts and found information about other defence deals. “We need to investigate the money flowing there as well. We have documents to show that they misled the Italian court,” said ED in the court.

After his 14-day custodial interrogation, the ED had produced Christian Michel before the court and requested the court to send him to judicial custody, alleging he might flee if left free.

“The accused is a British national and has no roots in India. There is every likelihood that he may abscond from India and evade the process of law, especially in the light of his past conduct. He has been brought to this court through rigorous extradition proceedings. His fleeing away from justice again cannot be ruled out,” the ED said.

The court had restricted his meetings with his lawyers after the ED said he was misusing legal access by passing slips to them, asking them how to tackle questions on “Mrs Gandhi”.

Earlier, the court had granted 7 days of custody to the ED on December 29. The ED had dropped several bombshells in the Court and had even asserted that Michel had mentioned a certain “Mrs Gandhi” during interrogation. Officials also verbally mentioned that Michel has also named “Italian lady’s son R who might become PM’.

Christian Michel is accused of money laundering, bribery, and fraud in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore worth AgustaWestland scam. It is believed that not only did he pay kickbacks to politicians, officers and agents but also involved certain celebrity journalists to swing the deal.

India had signed a deal in 2010 to buy 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for the service of the Prime Minister, the President and other VVIPs. It is alleged that some politicians and public servants had abused their official positions to reduce the service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6000 metres to 4500 metres to make AgustaWestland eligible for the contract and had awarded the contract for an amount of Euro 556.262 million in 2010.

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