Updated: December 29, 2018 10:08:47 pm
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Saturday told a Delhi Court that during the interrogation of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, “Mrs Gandhi’s name came up” and before a follow up question, he passed a chit to his lawyers seeking directions to “on what to say”.
Michel, who is an accused in Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, was extradited from UAE in December and is currently is ED custody. The agency sought an extension of eight more days, but the special court granted seven days custody.
“Michel took Mrs Gandhi’s name and we wanted to ask a follow-up question. His lawyers had come and suddenly he handed a chit to them. He was caught red-handed by the doctors…He was actually seeking some direction on what to say and also to inform someone outside on the line of questioning,” ED’s Special Public Prosecutor DP Singh submitted.
Singh also objected to the legal access given to Michel twice a day. He also submitted an incident report to the judge. Singh said that in one of the contract negotiation documents it is mentioned “son of an Italian lady…Going to be the next PM”. “We have to also confront him with these documents…We have to identify proceeds of crime,” Singh told the court.
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He further said officials who had been paid money near the North Block had to be identified. The ED also asserted that a “big man” referred to as “R” in communication between Michel and other people needed to be deciphered. “We need to confront Michel with other people to decipher who “the big man” or “R” is,” he told the court.
Michel’s lawyer Aljo Joseph, however, did not dispute the fact that a chit was handed to him. “It was bound to happen. It is a very cramped room. However, we did not see anything,” he said.
In its remand petition, the ED said Michel’s custody was required to identify the places and hide-outs where he held meetings and gave bribes to entertain officials and public figures. The ED also said the modus operandi adopted by the accused to eliminate Tata and HAL from competition in the deal was also being investigated.
“Steps undertaken to mask/potray the present deal as a British deal instead of Italian deal to gain advatage in light observation helicopters. How the accused violated and misused information leading to actions under the officials secrets act are other key issues being probed,” the Ed said.
It may be recalled that Italian probe authorities had claimed to have discovered a handwritten note that mentioned payments against code words such as “pol”, “Bur” and “Family”. Michel, however, has claimed the note was fake and prepared by another middleman Guido Haschke.
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