British middleman in AgustaWestland scam being extradited to India

Christian Michel James File

Christian Michel James File

The Dubai government had cleared the extradition of Michel after his appeal against the move was turned down by a court there.

Modi Government approached Dubai authorities in early 2015, demanding the deportation of Michel, who was the main middlemen accused of bribing top Congress leadership for the controversial purchase of 12 VVIP Helicopters from Italian firm AgustaWestland, worth more than Rs.3600 crore.

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

Investigations revealed that he allegedly acted as a middleman to sway the deal in favour of AgustaWestland and paid kickbacks to the Indians involved. Company AgustaWestland is also one of the accused in the case.

Lashing out at Congress for questioning the timing of extradition of Christian Michel, BJP president Amit Shah said on Tuesday that the party has no issue to challenge his party with.

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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. He will be produced at the Patiala House Courts Wednesday morning. Individuals named in the FIR include Finmeccanica officials Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, the Tyagi family, alleged middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, advocate Gautam Khaitan, formerly associated with Aeromatrix, and its CEO Praveen Bakshi. A CBI statement said Michel entered into criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons already charge sheeted to manipulate the VVIP chopper deal.

"While the BJP and PM Modi are seeking fake credit without being subjected to investigation by the CBI for their own complicity and connivance, they are latching on to Christian Michel for committing a smear campaign against opposition leaders". In September 2017, the CBI filed a formal charge sheet against S.P. Tyagi and nine others.

The UAE government had arrested Michel in February 2017 on an Interpol Red Corner notice which was issued after a lot of efforts were made by the CBI.

"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. He was allegedly also in touch with officials from the PMO, SPG, CVC and defence ministry.

"Michel, who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in the AgustaWestland case, is being extradited by the UAE authorities to India".

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