[AgustaWestland Scam] ED objects to Christian Michel James's bail plea, says James is a flight risk

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The matter pertains to the bail application filed by Christian Michel James an accused in the AgustaWestland scam case.

The Enforcement Directorate has objected to the bail application filed by Christian Michel James, an accused in the AgustaWestland scam case, stating that James, not being a citizen of India, is a flight risk and his extradition has been obtained with extreme difficulties.

ED, in its response to the bail application moved by James, submits that the offence committed in the case contains a complex web of transactions across jurisdictions and the investigation with respect to the same is ongoing and the presence of James is crucial at all stages.

Furthermore, the affidavit states that James is a key accused in the instant case and is accused of having played a pivotal role in the entire case, being a middleman engaged by M/s Augusta Westland for obtaining confidential information regarding the procurement process of VVIP helicopters by the Government India.

James was admittedly paid Euro 42 million for influencing the contract in M/s AgustaWestland's favor under the guise of five contracts through two of his firms to legitimize the illicit commission/kickbacks on the Procurement of VVIP Helicopters by the Ministry of Defense, India which constitutes a grave economic offense, the affidavit adds.

Earlier, the top court issued notice in the bail application while directing the Central Bureau of Investigation and Directorate of Enforcement to submit their responses.

On March 11, 2022, the Delhi High Court dismissed bail application filed by the British middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam cases by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

James had argued in his bail application that his detention, deportation, and custody in India are in contravention of the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and that he was already acquitted by courts in Italy on similar charges.

The High Court, however, rejected James's bail plea and said, "Considering the overall facts and circumstances, serious nature of accusations, gravity of offence and aforesaid conduct of the accused, I do not consider it to be a fit case for grant of bail. Application for bail filed by accused is, thus, dismissed."

James has been said to be the middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, facilitating the same through his companies. He was extradited from UAE to India in 2018. Later, he was sent to the custody of both, the CBI and ED, and after serving for a few days, was sent to judicial custody on January 5, 2019.

James continues to languish in Tihar jail after both the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court dismissed his previous bail petitions.