Chopper deal: Delhi court issues warrant against accused

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) A Delhi court on Thursday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against British national Christian Michel James, an accused in the AgustaWestland chopper deal case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on September 11 moved an application in the court seeking direction to issue non-bailable warrant James.

Special Judge Ajay Kumar Jain allowed the CBI application requesting issuance of an open-ended non-bailable arrest warrant against James, who has been referred as a major beneficiary of the chopper deal.

The CBI on March 13, 2013 registered a first information report against former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi and others in the chopper deal case.

Firms Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech Ltd (India) and Aeromatrix India were also booked as accused in the case.

Bribery allegations in the Rs.3,600 crore deal for 12 AW-101 choppers were being probed by the central investigating agency.

James was working as an middleman for this deal by Finmeccanica, a group firm of AgustaWestland.

The CBI told the court that he earlier used to visit India on regular basis.

Public prosecutor J.S. Wadia submitted that sustained custodial examination of James is very essential for furtherance of investigation of this case to know the role played by him in the procurement of 12 VVIP and non VIP helicopters.

He added that James’ custodial interrogation will help in identifying his accomplices and associates, who might have helped him in the said procurement.

The CBI informed the court that although James was a resident of London but as per information from British authorities, he was at present staying in Dubai where he has been running his companies.

The CBI also apprised the court that James’ presence in India in relation to the case was essential.

On the basis of open ended non-bailable arrest warrant, the CBI will requested the Interpol to issue a Red Corner Notice against James.

The prosecuting agency also cited investigation and proceedings in an Italian court, which has revealed that James was working as consultant in India for AugustaWestland’s AWA101 helicopter deal and in pursuance thereto, he was pursuing the said deal at different levels during procurement process and was updating the management of Finmeccanica and others about efforts being made at his end.

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