AgustaWestland Scam: Middleman Christian Michel extradited to India, says CBI

AgustaWestland Scam: Middleman Christian Michel extradited to India, says CBI

A top Dubai court had upheld a lower court's order to consider the possibility of extraditing Christian Michel on November 20.

Investigators also alleged that Michel paid off influential people in India, who helped reject the Russian and American choppers.

54-year-old Michel was among the alleged middlemen who brokered the chopper deal and who, investigators claim, paid bribes to officials and politicians to swing the contract in favour of AgustaWestland, the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica. The FIR named Tyagi and 12 other individuals as accused, besides four companies - Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix.

Michel was earlier taken to CBI headquarters following a medical check-up after being brought to India, in a move that many see as a significant win for the Indian government.

He has been alleged to be a "historical consultant" of the AgustaWestland helicopters in the United Kingdom with technical operational knowledge of the aircraft, the military bases and the pilots, the CBI spokesperson said in a statement.

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The ED investigation found that remittances made by Michel through his Dubai-based firm Global Services to a media firm he floated in Delhi, along with two Indians, were made from the funds which he got from AgustaWestland through "criminal activity" and corruption being done in the chopper deal that led to the subsequent generation of proceeds of crime. Former IAF chief SP Tyagi was also charged by the CBI in a Delhi court along with nine others in connection with a bribery case in the VVIP chopper deal. "An open non-bailable arrest warrant dated September 24, 2015, was issued by the special judge, CBI cases, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi", CBI spokesperson said.

A charge sheet was filed against him in September a year ago.

A team lead by Joint CBI Director A. Sai Manohar had been to Dubai to extradite James, who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in AgustaWestland case. India had put in an extradition request for Michel in March 2017.

"He will be examined with respect to his involvement in the case and confronted with documents recovered during raids by Swiss authorities, indicating that he bribed Indian authorities for securing the contract for supply of VVIP helicopters", a CBI officer said.

The CBI alleges that he operated as a middleman for defence procurement through a wide network of sources cultivated in the Air Force and the Defence Ministry at different levels, including retired officials. "During the above meeting they had negotiated a comprehensive fees equal to 7% of the supply contract amount to cover the expenses and fees of both of them".

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