February 16, 2019

AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel being extradited to India

05 December 2018, 03:17 | Devin Moran

Christian Michel James File

Christian Michel James File

The action comes after the Court of Cassation in UAE had in November upheld a lower court order which said that Michel could be extradited to India.

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.

Christian Michel is the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland case.

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. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said yesterday that Michel's extradition could spell serious trouble for the Congress's "first family", claiming that Michel was known to be a Gandhi-family loyalist.

The case pertains to the alleged money laundering in the Rs 3,600-crore deal through many channels to favour UK-based AgustaWestland. Michel is the man, CBI officials believe, who can decode the handwritten note cited on number 3 of Italian Court judgment mentioning about kickback amounting €15 to €16 million for "Political", "AP" and "Fam".

According to sources, a meeting was held in casino coaster of Italy during July 2006 where it was decided that Michel would join hands with two middlemen for scouting and monitoring activities regarding the acquisition of helicopters in India keeping in view his knowledge of the operational mechanism of the Indian military.

The involvement of Michel as a middleman in the VVIP chopper deal surfaced in 2012.

The CBI on September 1, 2017, had filed a charge sheet in the case in which Michel was named as one of the accused.

In January, the ED had lodged a request with the UAE authorities for extraditing James.

Michel who went missing after Dubai court's extradition approval was arrested in the UAE a year ago on the basis of an Interpol notice and was out on bail. He was allegedly also in touch with officials from the PMO, SPG, CVC and defence ministry.

James, who in previous interviews with Indian newspapers denied any wrongdoing, was detained in Dubai in February 2017 following an Indian arrest warrant and an Interpol notice.

Michel allegedly entered into 12 contracts through two of his firms - London-based Global Trade and Commerce and Dubai-based Global Services FZE - with Finmeccanica to camouflage and legitimise the alleged bribe received by him for clinching the deal, the CBI said.

In a prosecution complaint filed previous year, the ED had alleged that Michel had paid several people in cash.

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