VVIP Chopper Deal: Open NBW Issued Against Accused UK National

New Delhi
VVIP Chopper Deal: Open NBW Issued Against Accused UK National

A Delhi court today issued an open non-bailable warrant (NBW) against British national Christian Michel James, an accused in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal case, after the CBI said he was required for questioning to ascertain crucial aspects in the matter.

Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Jain allowed the contentions of the agency which said James, who as per the information by the UK authorities is presently staying in Dubai, was needed to be quizzed in the case to know how much amount he had received as "commission" in the entire deal.

"In view of the above submissions, open dated non- bailable warrants be issued against accused Christian Michel James," the court said.

The court fixed October 1 to consider CBI's application seeking issuance of Letter Rogatory to competent authority in Mauritius for assistance in probe and collection of documents related to the case.

CBI alleged that M/s AgustaWestland International Ltd and group firms of M/s Finmeccanica had engaged James and others as agents on "huge payment of commission/kickback to cause favour to M/s AgustaWestland International Ltd" in the matter.

The agency claimed that certain documents, appeared to have been prepared by James, were seized by Swiss authorities during searches in a similar matter, which included a "handwritten budget sheet" stated to be written by James.

It said the document showed that "the amount of Euro 30 million have been or was to be paid as illegal gratification to various persons associated in the said procurement, and others which include public/Government servants, politicians, etc. However, this document is in coded form."

The agency claimed that various reports on developments in the procurement process, sent by James to his authorities in Italy from time to time, and the pull and push being applied by him through various channels for it, were also part of the documents seized by the Swiss authorities.

It said that sustained custodial examination of James was "very essential for furtherance of investigation of this case to know the role played by him in the procurement of 12 VVIP/ non-VIP helicopter deal, to identify his accomplices and associates who might have helped him in the said procurement." (More)

CBI also alleged that the investigation and proceedings in the Italian Court in this matter has revealed that James was "working as consultant/agent in India for AW­101 helicopter deal" and pursuing the matter at different levels during the procurement process.

The agency claimed that James was also updating details to other accused about efforts being made at his end. He was also intimating them about the developments on the files of Defence Ministry relating to the procurement of helicopters.

"It is also relevant to know how much amount had he (James) received as commission for this deal from these companies, decoding the names of various persons as in the recovered 'budget sheet' and how much amount he had paid to various persons for this deal," it said.

"It is also relevant to know where he had parked the commission amounts, how he had secured the influence of various persons in India for the said procurement and how he was sending the progress reports to officials and other private persons involved in the deal from M/s AgustaWestland, or etc," the CBI said.

"Based on this arrest warrant, the Interpol India would be requested to issue a Red Corner Notice against Christian Michel James and execute the said warrant," it said.

The agency also said that Letter Rogatory of August 29, 2014, issued by the court in this case, have already been sent to UK and UAE authorities for their execution.

Former IAF chief S P Tyagi is also one of the key accused in case.

Tyagi, his cousins Sanjeev alias Julie, Rajeev alias Docsa and Sandeep, European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel James and Guido Haschke are among 13 individuals named as accused in the CBI FIR.

CBI, in its FIR, has booked all the accused under the provisions of IPC relating to cheating and criminal conspiracy and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

CBI, in its FIR, has alleged that during his tenure as Air Chief, Tyagi and "with his approval", the Air Force had "conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6000 metres to 4500 metres as mandatory" to which it was opposing vehemently on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons.

It said reduction of service ceiling -- maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally -- allowed UK-based AgustaWestland to get into the fray as, otherwise, its choppers were not qualified for submission of bids.

CBI also alleged that AgustaWestland managed to introduce a comparative flight trial with non-functional engine and eventually succeeded in getting the contract for supply of 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters from the Defence Ministry mainly due to softening of the IAF on service ceiling, after Tyagi took over as its chief.

Two new names, which were not part of the agency's preliminary enquiry, have also been included in the FIR. They include Satish Bagrodia and Pratap Kishan Aggarwal, CBI said.

Six companies including Italy-based Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius have been booked by CBI in its FIR.

Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi, former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi, former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini and legal advisor and former board member of IDS Infotech Gautam Khaitan are also named as accused.

All the accused have denied the CBI's allegations against them.

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