ED, Christian Michel seek enquiry into AgustaWestland chargesheet leak

ED, Christian Michel seek enquiry into AgustaWestland chargesheet leak

ED's special public prosecutors D P Singh and N K Matta claimed that the matter was "serious".

NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and British-national Christian Michel, alleged middleman arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, Saturday sought before a Delhi court an enquiry into the purported leakage of the supplementary charge sheet filed in the case to media.

The ED urged the court to issue a notice to a news organisation asking it to explain how it accessed the documents, whereas Michel supported the demand of a probe while accusing the agency of politicising the matter.

ED's special public prosecutors D P Singh and N K Matta claimed that the matter was "serious".

"The charge sheet's copy is yet to be supplied to the accused persons. However, Michel's lawyers came to know what we have written in it and filed an application on that behalf. This is a very serious matter and an enquiry must be ordered to ascertain how the copy of the charge sheet was leaked," the ED said.

Special judge Arvind Kumar issued notice to the agency and directed it to file a reply on Michel's plea, which had stated that he had not named anybody in connection with the deal during investigation by the ED and that even though the court has not taken cognisance of the documents, in order to make the entire case a sensation again in the media, the agency had leaked the charge sheet.

The court will take up ED's plea related to leakage of the charge sheet copy on April 11. Meanwhile, the court issued summons to Michel's business partner and middleman David Nigel John Syms as an accused in the case. Syms, named as accused in the charge sheet, is asked to appear before court on May 9. The court also summoned two firms -- Global Services FZE and Global Traders -- as accused in the case.

Michel and Syms are directors of the two firms. The court directed to keep the copy the charge sheet in a sealed cover until further orders. It also extended by two days the custodial interrogation of Sushen Mohan Gupta, an alleged defence agent arrested by the agency in the case.

It further sought a reply from the agency on Gupta's bail application by April 9. Gupta was arrested by the agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The probe agency had said Gupta's role in the case came to light on the basis of disclosures made by Rajiv Saxena, who has turned approver in the case after he was deported from the UAE and arrested by the agency here.

Michel's counsel Aljo K Joseph Friday moved an application before the court, saying, "Michel has not named anyone in his statement before the agency which is being leaked to media. This is only to make the matter sensational and prejudice the case against my client."

He claimed the copy of the charge sheet was provided to the media before it was provided to Michel. Michel was arrested by the ED on December 22 last year after his extradition from Dubai.

He is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the chopper scam by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI.

The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. The agency had earlier told the court that Michel received 24.25 million euros and 1,60,96,245 pounds from the AgustaWestland deal.

The ED told the court that it had identified Michel's properties purchased with the proceeds of the crime. The ED, in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he had received 30 million euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, has alleged an estimated loss of 398.21 million euros (about Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth 556.262 million euros.

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