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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

British high commission official meets Christian Michel to check his welfare

The British mission had sought consular access to Michel after he was arrested following his extradition by the United Arab Emirates in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland deal.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2019 18:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India has granted UK consular access to Christian Michel, a British national arrested for his alleged role as a middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter case.
India has granted UK consular access to Christian Michel, a British national arrested for his alleged role as a middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter case. (REUTERS)
         

India has granted UK consular access to Christian Michel, a British national arrested for his alleged role as a middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter case, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Friday.

“I can confirm that he has been granted consular access. A second secretary-level officer from the British high commission has met Christian Michel based on the request we had received last month from the high commission,” Kumar told a weekly news briefing.

The access was granted on Thursday. The spokesperson of the British high commission said in a brief statement: “Our staff are supporting a British man who is detained in India, and have visited him to check his welfare.”

The British mission had sought consular access to Michel after he was arrested in the first week of December following his extradition by the United Arab Emirates in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland deal.

Asked about Michel’s plea to a special court on Thursday to be allowed to make phone calls to his family, friends and lawyers abroad, Kumar said, “We have shared in the past that he has been allowed to communicate with his family members. I have not seen the plea which he has entered on this matter.”

Read: ‘Was Rafale deal held up because of Michel mama?’: Modi attacks Congress

People familiar with developments said authorities would consider any formal request from the British high commission for Michel to be allowed more communications with his family.

Michel, 57, had said in his application to the special court that he should be permitted to made international calls in order to collect materials needed to prove his innocence. He is currently being held at Tihar Jail.

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged in its charge-sheet that Michel received 30 million euros from AgustaWestland for acting as a middleman in the deal to supply VVIP helicopters worth 556.262 million euros. Michel has denied the charges levelled against him.

The money was nothing but “kickbacks” paid by the firm to execute the 12 helicopter deal in favour of the firm in the “guise of” genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country, according to the charge sheet.

Michel is one of the three middlemen, being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

The CBI has alleged there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (approximately Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal.

First Published: Jan 11, 2019 18:44 IST