British middleman in AgustaWestland scam being extradited to India

British middleman in AgustaWestland scam being extradited to India

Live BlogVVIP chopper case: Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in AgustaWestland chopper case, will be produced in court today.

A Delhi court on Wednesday sent Christian Michel +, the alleged British middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case, to five-day CBI custody.

Michel was extradited from Dubai yesterday, and was arrested by the CBI upon his arrival in New Delhi last night.

NDTV has learnt that about a year ago, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval set up a crack team of four officers led by CBI joint director Sai Manohar to work on bringing Michel to India. However, when he failed to do so, an open non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against him in September 2015.

A bail plea was also moved on behalf of him.

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".

Seven months later, in September 2017, the CBI filed a chargesheet against James and 11 others, following which an extradition request was forwarded to the UAE. At least 12 phoney contracts were signed between his firms and AgustaWestland to legitimise approximately Rs 295 crore paid as kickbacks to secure the deal.

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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.

Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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.

The CBI alleges that he operated as a middleman for defence procurement through a wide network of sources cultivated in the Air Force and the Defence Ministry at different levels, including retired officials.

Surjewala also said it was time that CBI investigated the prime minister for his alleged role in "exonerating" AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica instead of "weaving a fake story" to deflect attention from the "imminent defeat" in five states. The contract was frozen in February 2013 after allegations surfaced that Rs 3,600 crore was paid as a bribe.

During that meeting in Italy, they had negotiated a comprehensive fee equal to 7 per cent of the supply contract amount to cover the expenses and their payments.

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