New Delhi: Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal worth Rs 36,000 crore, was sent to seven days’ police custody on Saturday.

Earlier, Michel appeared in the court in Delhi on Saturday to plead for bail even as the CBI opposed the plea of SP Tyagi who had requested the court to allow them to travel abroad.

The court has reserved its order on SP Tyagi until January 24.

The CBI argued that Michel enjoyed close proximity with high-class people. His release on bail would hamper the investigation, the premier investigation agency of the country argued.

Tyagi wanted to visit Switzerland, a place another middleman Guido Haschke involved in the case visits often. Yet, the court asked the CBI to withdraw the lookout circular issued in his name. This is a circular that is issued for travelling persons who are wanted by the law enforcement agencies of some other country. 

Michel had appealed to the court also for moving him to a different jail or a different cell in the jail as other inmates were allegedly harassing him with questions pertaining to the alleged scandal in the VVIP helicopter deal. To that, the court directed the jail superintendent to take care of Michel’s security.

But that, the court held, was not ground enough to grant Michel a bail.

ED seeks permission to question Michel

The court had initially granted a mere 15 minutes of time to the Enforcement Directorate to interrogate Michel. The agency asked for five more minutes, to which the court agreed.

Officers of the ED then took Michel to an antechamber for questioning and confronted him with incriminating documentary evidence against him.

Thereafter, the ED demanded a 15-day custody of Michel for further interrogation.

ED told the court that Michel had invested in properties worth crores in Delhi. Michel, they said, used different hawala channels to send and receive money. But the agency only had some leads, which would take time to develop into a chain, the ED told the court.

The key persons of the hawala chain need to be identified, the ED said to the court. It said it had evidence that the money Michel had asked for had arrived but was not certain where it landed.

The defence counsel of Michel pleaded that his client had been detained for far too long already. He said that the bank details of Michel are with the CBI and ED already.

Michel’s lawyer alleged that the Indian authority misled the UAE as well as Italian authorities on the issue. He said that the Indian agencies were asking for further detention of his client so that they could extract some confession from him by force. He said that the ED was aware that the CBI custody of Michel would last 15 days. They could have moved an application to extend the period earlier, Michel’s lawyer argued.

To that, the ED said that the CBI and ED were two different agencies and a joint investigation and interrogation was not possible. The ED submitted further that Michel had never complained that he was mistreated, and his lawyer used to meet him on a daily basis. The ED said that doubting its intentions was therefore misplaced.

The ED said it had the right to interrogate Michel to establish the suspected nexus between Haschke, Carlo Gerosa and him. The agency said that it never got the chance to question Michel since the time of securing his non-bailable warrant and extradition from the UAE. This was why the ED needed Michel in police custody, it argued.

The court resumed hearing at 4 PM after which the ED’s request for seven-days police custody for Michel was granted.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar dismissed the bail plea of Michel. 

A day after Michel’s extradition, the court had granted the CBI a five-day custodial interrogation of Michel. This was extended by five more days subsequently, and then for four more days.

The court had reserved the order on Michel's bail plea until December 19.

Michel’s judicial custody will last till December 28, subject to further orders by the court.