AgustaWestland scam: UAE court orders extradition of alleged middleman Christian Michel to India
A court in Dubai ordered the extradition of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the controversial AgustaWestland chopper scam, to India.
A Dubai court has ordered for the extradition of British national and alleged middleman Christian Michel in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case, official sources said on late Tuesday.
They said the court pronounced the judgment on Tuesday after India had officially made the request to the gulf nation sometime back, based on the criminal investigations conducted in this case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The full contents of the order against Christian Michel James (54) are expected to be known by Wednesday as the legal pronouncement is in Arabic and is being translated in English at the behest of Indian authorities, they said.
The order is being seen as a major shot in the arm to the agencies — CBI and ED — probing the case.
Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the ED and the CBI. Both the agencies have notified an Interpol red corner notice (RCN) against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
Michel has been extensively interviewed by the Indian media in Dubai in the past and both the agencies want him to join the probe to take the case forward.
On 1 January, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks of Rs 423 crore paid by it to secure the deal. The ED alleged that money was laundered through multiple foreign companies which were used as fronts to park alleged kickbacks.
In July, CBI refuted the allegation made by Michel's lawyer that Michel was being put under pressure by Indian and UAE authorities to give a confession and name Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in his statement.
"Christian Michel was arrested in February 2017 by the UAE authorities. He was not arrested this year as claimed by his defence lawyer. CBI team has neither examined the fugitive in the UAE nor influenced him to extract confession. The extradition proceedings against the fugitive is going on in the UAE and request for extradition is being followed up," CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told PTI on the allegations.
CBI alleged an estimated loss of €398.21 million (approximately Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on 8 February, 2010, for the supply of VVIP choppers worth €556.262 million.
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