British middleman hauled to India over chopper scam

AgustaWestland deal'middleman Christian Michel extradited to India lands in Delhi

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 objective of payment for service and consultancy contracts in 2010-11.

He was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday night in an operation carried out under the guidance of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.

"I went there along with my UAE lawyer where another UAE national was present who introduced himself has the foreign minister of UAE who personally asked Michel to cooperate citing good relations between India and UAE", Christian Michel wrote in his email. He described the Indian official as a "person wearing suit not a usual tweed jacket".

The reduction in ceiling made AgustaWestland eligible for contract worth 556.262 million Euros, which was awarded to it by the Defence Ministry on February 08, 2010, for procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters. Both the ED and the CBI had filed chargesheets in bribery cases in Indian courts and non-bailable warrants had been issued against the accused.

So what is AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case?

More news: UN Envoy to Yemen, Houthi Delegation Depart for Sweden

According to CBI, because of his expertise in engineering, James was a part of the conspiracy to reduce the flying height for the VIP helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres. RCNs were also issued against two Italians involved in the scam - Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke.

"During the meeting, they had negotiated a comprehensive fee equal to 7 per cent of the supply contract amount", a source said. It was a Rs 3,546 crore contract to supply 12 AW-101 helicopters to the IAF.

His alleged involvement in the chopper deal surfaced in 2012 as a middleman for swinging the deal in favour of AgustaWestland and for making illegal payment of commissions or kickbacks to the Indian authorities, CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said. It was clear by September this year that Christian Michel would be extradited to India.

Michel is one of three middlemen being probed in the case by Indian investigative agencies in connection with the scam.

"The trial court took cognisance of the offences in October 2017, after which the CBI's request for extradition was forwarded to the UAE authorities on 19 March 2018 through diplomatic channels", a CBI officer said.

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