VVIP chopper scam: Middleman Christian Michel brought to India
05 December 2018
The Dubai government has finally handed over Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper scandal, to India. He was brought to New Delhi in private chartered flight last night and was immediately taken to the CBI headquarters for questioning.
Christian Michel, a British national, is wanted in a case related to organising bribes to the tune of Rs225 crore (about 30 million euros) to push a Rs3,600-crore contract for VVIP helicopters to be purchased for top Indian leaders.
His extradition came through after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj held discussions with her UAE counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi.
Michel, 54, will be produced in a court in the morning.
The AgustaWestland case involves a UPA government deal to purchase 12 luxury helicopters for use by the President, Prime Minister, former prime ministers and other VVIPs.
The government, however, scrapped the contract in 2014 amid allegations that AgustaWestland, whose parent company Finmeccanica faced charges of bribery in Italy and had paid kickbacks in India.
The Enforcement Directorate has accused Michel of receiving 30 million Euros (about Rs225 crore) from AgustaWestland as kickbacks.
Michel is one of the three middlemen being examined in the case, along with Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
Michel was arrested in the UAE last year on the basis of an Interpol notice and was out on bail.
In July, Michel's lawyer alleged that he was being pressured by Indian agencies to frame Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in return for amnesty from criminal proceedings.
On 26 August, the UAE had asked a court on the possibility of extraditing a British national to a third country. The court said a few days later that extradition is possible.
In November, a court confirmed the order, clearing the way for Michel's extradition to India.
On Tuesday, the UAE government passed an administrative order to enable Michel's extradition.