New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has sought extradition of a British national, alleged to be a middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal, on charges of money laundering.
Officials said the agency has moved an official request in this regard to the Union Home Ministry with the copy of a court-issued non-bailable warrant and a recently notified Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) against the said middleman: Christian Michel James.
The extradition request, it is understood, has been sent after the ED ascertained James movements in either one of the constituents of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or a European country and it suspects he may leave the said country before Interpol reaches him.
The agency has earlier told a Delhi court that James was present in Dubai.
"The Ministry of Home Affairs is looking into the request," a senior official said without elaborating further.
Sometime back, both the ED and CBI had got an Interpol warrant issued against 54-year-old James in this case.
While the CBI has sought his arrest for "criminal conspiracy, cheating, illegal gratification and abuse of official position", the ED wants him for charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Both the agencies have also got RCNs issued against two other alleged middlemen wanted in this case — Italians Carlo Gerosa and Guido Ralph Haschke — after a special court in Delhi had issued non-bailable warrants against them on their separate pleas late 2015.
The ED had claimed that Agusta Westland had allegedly paid a "kickback" of around 70 million Euro out of which around 30 million Euros was paid to James and his firm Global Services FZE, Dubai while Gerosa and Haschke had allegedly cornered the rest.
The agency had claimed that "investigations revealed that kickbacks received by James in his company M/s Global Services, FZE, Dubai in the guise of two agreements from M/s Agusta Westland, were nothing other than that of the kickback which is thus a proceeds of crime."
The agency's prosecutor had then told the court that sustained custodial examination of James was essential for taking forward the probe in the case and know about the role played by him in the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters' deal and also to identify his accomplices and associates.
The prosecutor had also informed the court that interrogation of James was necessary to know about the quantum of proceeds of crime he had received as commission for this deal from these firms, details of movable/immovable properties on which the proceeds of crime was invested and allegedly laundered by him and also for "decoding" the names of various persons figuring in the documents recovered during the probe.
"It is also relevant to know that where he had parked the commission amount i.e. proceeds of crime, how he had secured the influence of various persons in India for the said procurement and how he was sending the progress report to officials and other private persons involved in the deal from M/s Agusta Westland etc," the agency had claimed while pressing charges against James.
ED, in July 2014, had lodged a case under PMLA against several persons who were named in the FIR registered earlier by the CBI in this case.
The agency also filed a charge sheet in the case last year against businessman Gautam Khaitan and others including Gerosa and Haschke for alleged offences committed under various PMLA sections.
CBI had named a number of persons in its FIR in the case including former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi and the three middlemen are among the 13 individuals named as accused in CBI's FIR, which was later used by the ED for filing their separate case under criminal charges of money laundering.