India Abroad

AgustaWestland Middleman Christian Michel To Be Extradited, Confirms Dubai Court

| September 19 , 2018 , 10:21 IST

India may be facing difficulties in securing the extraditions of absconding Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, however, the extradition of Christian Michel, the British middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper scandal has been confirmed by a Dubai Court, media reported on Wednesday.

Michel was arrested in the UAE last year and was facing extradition proceedings, wanted in India for allegedly organising bribes in exchange for VVIP helicopter contracts. Extradition requests had been sent by India's CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED), probing the alleged kickbacks paid in the deal to buy 12 VVIP choppers in favour of AgustaWestland.

According to sources, Michel still has the option of appeal and the extradition may not completed immediately.

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Recently, Michel was detained by authorities for 45 days, after which he alleged through his lawyer that he was being pressured to name members of India's Gandhi family in the scam, but the CBI has denied such allegations.

Considered to be a key suspect in the AgustaWestland case, the CBI and ED have identified Michel as the middleman responsible for establishing contact with bureaucrats and politicians to move the VVIP chopper deal in favour of AgustaWestland.

The ED, in its prosecution complaint filed last year, alleged that Michel paid several people in cash after receiving Euro 30 million as kickbacks, including sending cash packets to cousins of former Air Force chief S P Tyagi.

The initial FIR in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case was filed by the CBI on March 14, 2013 after a preliminary enquiry, naming Tyagi and 12 other individuals as accused, as well as 4 companies Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix.

ALSO READ: AgustaWestland Deal Case: 2 Indian Associates Of Alleged Middleman Granted Bail

The Italian manufacturing company allegedly gave a bribe to Indian officials in order to get the contract for supplying 12 helicopters worth US $610 million for VVIPs in India. According to Italian courts, Congress President Sonia Gandhi was also involved in the scam.

The other individuals named in the case 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. While the Gandhi family is not mentioned by name, a note was recovered showing payment amounts mentioned against the word 'family'.

Earlier in January 2014, India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks of Rs 423 crore paid by it to secure the deal. The first chargesheet was filed by the ED in November 2014.