Chopper scam: Court to pass order on cognisance of chargesheet on Sept 25

PTI New Delhi | Updated on September 21, 2020 Published on September 21, 2020

A Delhi court on Monday reserved the order on whether to take cognisance of a supplementary charge sheet against British National Christian Michel James and businessman Rajeev Saxena in the AgustaWestland chopper scam.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar reserved the order for September 25 after the public prosecutor, appearing for the CBI, submitted his argument that there was enough material to proceed against both the alleged middlemen as well as 13 others in the case.

According to sources, the probe report filed on Friday details the alleged role played by the accused in bringing bribes for politicians, bureaucrats and Indian Air Force (IAF) officials.

The sources said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had earlier this year sought sanction from the authorities concerned to prosecute former defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, has not named him as an accused since the request has not been granted yet.

The agency told the court that it may file another supplementary charge sheet in the matter later.

Also read: VVIP Chopper scam: Delhi court allows CBI to question Christian Michel in Tihar jail

The first charge sheet in the case was filed in September 2017 naming former IAF chief SP Tyagi and others.

The agency had earlier told the court that during the course of investigation, copies of classified/ secret official documents of the IAF/ Ministry of Defence (MoD) such as Operational Requirements for VVIP helicopters before issuance of Request for Proposal and other incriminating documents running into more than one lakh pages, were received from Italy and Switzerland.

It had also said that a payment sheet recovered from Michel, prepared on his dictation, shows that an amount of €30 million was paid/ proposed to be paid to officers of IAF, MoD, bureaucrats, politicians and family in India for showing favour in the VVIP helicopter deal.

Michel had entered into as many as five contracts through two of his firms to legitimise the illicit commissions/ kickbacks on the procurement of VVIP helicopters by MoD, India, the CBI said.

An amount of €42.27 million was paid by Westland Group Companies to the firms of the applicant as kickbacks/ bribes without undertaking any work against the receipt of such amount, it said.

Also read: VVIP Chopper scam: Delhi court sends Ratul Puri to judicial custody till October 1

It said that out of the kickbacks received from AgustaWestland, Michel made further payments to various persons in India.

Michel was taken into custody by the CBI on December 5 last year after his extradition from Dubai, while the ED took him into custody on December 22 last year. He is currently in judicial custody in both cases.

Dubai-based businessman Saxena was extradited to India on January 31, 2019 in connection with the scam relating to the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland.

The ED had earlier arrested Saxena, but he was later granted bail after the agency supported his plea to turn approver in the case.

The agencies had told the court that Michel made €24.25 million and ₤1,60,96,245 from the now-scrapped AgustaWestland deal.

The CBI has alleged that the deal signed in February 2010 to supply VVIP choppers worth €556.262 million caused an estimated loss of €398.21 million (about ₹2,666 crore) to the state exchequer.

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Published on September 21, 2020
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