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India
06 Dec 2018

Christian Michel, alleged AgustaWestland middleman, questioned overnight

Christian Michel slept for two hours

Christian Michel was questioned by the CBI overnight and slept for only two hours, sources privy to the development told PTI.

Michel, who was extradited to India from Dubai, is the alleged middleman in the multi-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal.

He was brought to Delhi on Tuesday, and after formalities were completed, CBI took over his custody to unearth his role in the deal.

In context

Christian Michel slept for two hours

A little about Michel's alleged role in the scandal

Michel's companies received €42.27 million from companies Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland. The money was distributed for bribes, to the tune of Rs. 3,600 crore, to swing the 12-helicopter deal for VVIP flights in AgustaWestland's favor. In September 2017, CBI filed a charge sheet against him.

At CBI HQ, Michel had an anxiety attack

Reaching India

At CBI HQ, Michel had an anxiety attack

Michel was brought to India on request of the government. 57-year-old Michel suffered anxiety attack when he reached the CBI Headquarters.

During the wee hours of the night, doctors attended him. The interrogation carried on overnight and Michel was allowed to sleep from 4 AM to 6 AM on Wednesday.

At 4 PM, he was taken to Patiala House court.

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Details

What the CBI hopes to achieve

The court sent Michel to five days of CBI custody and he was escorted back to the 11-floor steel and glass building.

The CBI had questioned him about the money trail and hopes to confront him with certain documents. Michel allegedly sent confidential information to his masters in Italy through fax.

Till now Michel has not evaded any probe in this matter.

CBI discovered notes which mentioned bribes paid

Notes

CBI discovered notes which mentioned bribes paid

The CBI has discovered notes about alleged kickbacks paid to one "AP" and "fam" for the choppers.

Michel had paid money to many politicians, journalists, and officials to swing the deal in his favor.

Notably, the AP mentioned above could be Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who was Sonia Gandhi's political secretary at one time, suggesting the party's bigwigs' involvement.

Letter

Italian court's judgment made references to Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh

A light was shed on the scam's Italian connection when a court in the foreign nation passed a judgment in 2016 which made references to Sonia Gandhi, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and others.

Apparently, Michel had written a letter to Peter Hulet, the then Indian region sales head of AgustaWestland, suggesting whom he should approach.

The letter mentioned Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Singh.

What's written in the letter

"Dear Peter, since Mrs. Gandhi (Sonia Gandhi) is the driving force behind VIP will no longer fly in the MI-8. Mrs. Gandhi and her closest advisers are the people who the British ambassador should target..Prime Minister Manmohan Singh obviously main figure, then there is Secretary (Sonia's Political Secretary) Ahmed Patel," read the letter.

Meanwhile, Congress expelled youth leader; British High Commission seeks consular-access

Expulsion

Meanwhile, Congress expelled youth leader; British High Commission seeks consular-access

Notably, the British High Commission has sought consular access of Michel from the government.

On Wednesday, Congress expelled its leader Aljo K Joseph, who was representing Michel in court.

IYC claimed Joseph appeared for Michel in his personal capacity.

"He did not consult the Youth Congress before appearing in the case. IYC does not endorse such actions," said Amrish Ranjan Pandey, IYC National Spokesperson

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