AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel extradited

Cheryl Sanders
December 5, 2018

The CBI had filed its first chargesheet in the AgustaWestland scam in September 2017, in which it alleged that Christian Michel through his companies had received 42.27 million euros for the goal of payment for service and consultancy contracts in 2010-11.

In a major late night breakthrough for India's investigative agencies in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, middleman Christian Michel James was extradited to India from Dubai.

The order was passed by Special CBI judge Arvind Kumar after Michel was produced before him by the agency.

Meanwhile, it is reported that Michel was questioned at the CBI headquarters for most parts of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and that he would be produced in Patiala House Court later in the day.

A team of the agency's officers led by Joint Director Sai Manohar was in Dubai to bring him back, it said.

On the basis of the non-bailable arrest warrant, Interpol too issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against him. Among those arraigned were retired Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, his cousins, former Air Marshal J.S. Gujral, two other alleged middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke, the then AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini, Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi and others.

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. Months later on 1 September 2017, a charge sheet was filed against him and the trial court took cognizance of the offences on 11 October 2017.

In its chargesheet, the ED had said the three middlemen "managed to" influence the Indian Air Force (IAF) officials to reduce the service ceiling of these 12 helicopters from 6,000 metre to 4,500 metre in 2005, which made AgustaWestland eligible for the deal.

The CBI on Tuesday confirmed that fugitive criminal Christian Michel James who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in the AgustaWestland Case "is being extradited by UAE Authorities to India".

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 was allegedly also in touch with officials from the PMO, SPG, CVC and defence ministry. AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties after this change. They allegedly decided 7% of the contract amount for covering expenses and fees for both.

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