VVIP chopper case : Delhi court issues fresh summons against Christian Michel’s business partner

A Delhi court Thursday issued fresh summons against David Nigel John Syms, an alleged middleman and business partner of British national Christian Michel, in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case.

Special judge Arvind Kumar summoned Syms, named as an accused in the supplementary charge sheet, to appear before the court.

A charge sheet was also filed against Syms and two firms — Global Services FZE and Global Traders.

Syms and Michel are both directors of the two firms.

Michel was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on December 22 last year after his extradition from Dubai.

He is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the chopper scam by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation. The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

 

Chopper case: Delhi court directs Saxena to record statement before magistrate on Mar 2

A Delhi court Thursday directed Rajeev Saxena, who had moved a plea to become an approver in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland money-laundering case, to record his statement before a magistrate court.

Special judge Arvind Kumar marked Saxena’s plea before the court of the CMM on March 2 for recording of his disclosure statement (disclose intentions for becoming an approver), after he told the court that he had no intention not to cooperate and that it was logical at this stage to complete his testimony in a fair way.

The judge asked him, “Are you aware that you may not be absolved of punishment by becoming an approver?”. To this Saxena replied in the affirmative.

“I have thought long and hard and I am confident that my exposure to the case is minimal… I have no intention not to cooperate. At this stage it is logical to complete my testimony in a fair way,” he told the court.

He further asserted that he decided to be an approver on his own free will and with a complete understanding of the case and he was neither given any assurances nor has he taken any.

The ED was on Wednesday asked by the court to file its response by today but Special Public Prosecutor D P Singh argued that the agency will file its reply after Saxena’s disclosure statement was recorded before a different court.

Saxena had moved an application to be an approver in the case, saying it was “out of free will” and “without any coercion” and prayed that he “will make a full disclosure subject to the grant of pardon”.

“The applicant humbly prays, without prejudice to his defence, that he may be granted pardon approver under Section 306 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 subject to the condition that he will make a full disclosure, to the extent, the facts are within his knowledge of which he will make a true and proper disclosure subject to the grant of pardon,” his application had said.

Saxena had said that he has cooperated with the investigation throughout and has made known entire facts regarding the case.

“The applicant cooperated with the investigation during the entire period of remand before the Directorate of Enforcement.

“The applicant has made a clean breast of the entire facts as known to the applicant with regard to the complaint pertaining to the AgustaWestland helicopters filed by the Directorate of Enforcement to the extent known to him,” the application had said.

Saxena was earlier granted bail by the court on medical grounds after perusing reports submitted by AIIMS.

The court had said that it was clear from the medical record submitted by AIIMS that Saxena was suffering from a number of serious ailments including blood cancer and needs constant medical checkups.

Saxena, who is in custody since January 31 after his deportation from Dubai, said in his bail plea that when all the other accused in the case, including Gautam Khaitan, Ritu Khaitan and S P Tyagi were out on bail, there could be “no justification” to deny him the same relief.

Saxena, a director of two Dubai-based firms – UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings – is one of the accused named in the charge sheet filed by ED in the AgustaWestland case.

Christian Michel, former AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica directors Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, former Air Force chief SP Tyagi and Saxena’s wife Shivani have also been named by the agency in the chargesheet.

The ED had alleged that in connivance with Khaitan, Saxena provided a global corporate structure for laundering illegal proceeds of the crime for payment to various political persons, bureaucrats and Air Force officials to influence the contract to supply 12 VVIP helicopters in favour of AgustaWestland.

Saxena was residing in Palm Jumeriah, Dubai and has been living in the UAE for last 26 years.

Maintaining that AgustaWestland had paid Euro 58 million as kickbacks through two Tunisia-based firms, the ED has alleged that “these companies further siphoned off the said money in the name of consultancy contracts to M/s Interstellar Technologies Limited, Mauritius and others which were further transferred to M/s UHY Saxena and M/s Matrix Holdings Ltd, Dubai and others”.

It was alleged by the probe agency that the two Dubai-based firms were the entities “through which the proceeds of crime have been routed and further layered and integrated in buying the immovable properties/ shares, among others” in this case.

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

VVIP Chopper case: Christian Michel moves Delhi court seeking bail

Christian Michel, arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, moved a Delhi court Friday seeking bail in cases by the CBI and the ED, saying the chargesheet against him was not filed within the stipulated time frame of 60 days.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar sought the agencies’ reply by February 12, when the court will hear the matter.

The bail application said that the probe is complete.

“Since, the chargesheet was not filed against him within the stipulated 60-day period under section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Probe is complete. I’m in custody since December 22, 2018,” Michel said in the petition.

Michel, extradited from Dubai, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on December 22 last year.

On January 5, Michel was sent to judicial custody in the ED case. He is also lodged in judicial custody in the CBI case related to the scam.

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

VVIP chopper case: Delhi court sends Christian Michel to judicial custody

A Delhi court Saturday sent alleged middleman Christian Michel, arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, to judicial custody.

Michel was produced before Special Judge Arvind Kumar and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought his judicial custody in connection with its probe into a money-laundering case.

In the ED case, the court sent Michel to judicial custody till February 26 and in the CBI case, it sent him to judicial custody till February 27.

Michel, who was extradited from Dubai recently, was arrested by the ED on December 22 and sent to a seven-day custody of the agency by a court here.

He was earlier lodged in the Tihar Jail here in a related CBI case.

The ED, through special public prosecutors D P Singh and N K Matta, told the court that probe had been “fruitful” till now.

“We have investigated how cash was transferred through ‘hawala’ and multiple bank accounts. We have 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,” it said.

The court had earlier imposed restrictions on Michel meeting his lawyers in ED custody after the agency said he was misusing legal access by passing chits to the advocates, asking them how to tackle questions on “Mrs Gandhi”.

In its application seeking extension of Michel’s remand, the agency also claimed that during questioning, he had spoken about the “son of an Italian lady” and how he was going to become the next prime minister of the country.

“We also need to decipher who the ‘big man’ referred to as ‘R’ is in the communication between Christian Michel and other people,” the agency told the court.

The ED sought that Michel be barred from meeting his lawyers in custody, alleging that he was being tutored from outside through his lawyers.

The agency told the court that Michel had made a reference to “Mrs Gandhi” during his interrogation on December 27.

During his medical examination, the accused had handed over a folded paper to his lawyer, Aljo K Joseph, and it was noticed by the ED officials.

After the perusal of the paper, it was revealed that it pertained to a set of follow-up questions on “Mrs Gandhi”, the ED said.

The agency told the court that it was clear that there was a conspiracy to shield or tamper with evidence that could be brought forth from the questioning of the accused.

It said it had discovered fresh evidence relating to new entities used for laundering the proceeds of crime and that Michel’s custodial interrogation was needed for confronting his Indian connections identified till date.

His custody was required for “unearthing the deep-rooted conspiracy and identification of all his accomplices, including the IAF officials, MoD (Ministry of Defence) officials, bureaucrats and politicians who gained undue advantage for getting the contract in favour of AgustaWestland,” the ED said in its application, adding that Michel remained evasive to certain questions during investigation.

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

The ED, in its remand application on Saturday, said the probe had revealed that Michel was the key middleman for AgustaWestland, pursuing the deal at different levels, and was instrumental in the circulation of sensitive information and eventual payment of kickbacks.

The key issues being investigated by the ED include 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.

The agency is also probing the modus operandi adopted in influencing the German deal and how the accused misused information, leading to actions under the Official Secrets Act, and to determine if there were any more kickbacks, leading to the proceeds of crime linked with these activities.

The agency said it needed to determine the exact quantum of money laundered through the Media Exim Private Limited, the roles of the co-accused and unearth the proceeds of crime parked through this channel.

The ED, in its chargesheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he had received 30 million euros — about Rs 225 crore — from AgustaWestland.

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