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British middleman hauled to India over chopper scam

05 December 2018

The Dubai government had cleared the extradition of Michel after his appeal against the move was turned down by a court there.

The sleuths probing into VVIP chopper scam have come across several such incidences to piece together solid evidence to prosecute the middlemen, who had allegedly swung the deal in favour of AgustaWestland.

Michel is one of three middlemen being probed in the case by Indian investigative agencies in connection with the scam. Former Air Force chief SP Tyagi was also arrested over the allegations of reducing the flying ceiling of the helicopter to put AgustaWestland in the race.

The agency said that Michel has been brought back to India after completion of the extradition process.

India cancelled the Rs 3,600 crore deal with AgustaWestland in January 2014.

Michel will be produced before the CBI Court next on December 10. Individuals named in the FIR include Finmeccanica officials Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, the Tyagi family, alleged middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, advocate Gautam Khaitan, formerly associated with Aeromatrix, and its CEO Praveen Bakshi.

Michel has denied all the charges. The Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are both probing the case, in which a chargesheet was filed against Michel in June 2016.

"An open non-bailable arrest warrant dated September 24, 2015, was issued by the special judge, CBI cases, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi", he said.

"He will be examined with respect to his involvement in the case and confronted with documents recovered during raids by Swiss authorities, indicating that he bribed Indian authorities for securing the contract for supply of VVIP helicopters", a CBI officer said.

"Extradition proceedings were held before UAE Court against Christian Michel Vide order dated 19.11.2018, the Court of Dubai upheld the lower court decision for the possibility of extraditing Michel to Indian Authorities", said a CBI official.

Christian Michel James was a frequent visitor to India and was operating as a middleman for defence procurements through a wide network of sources cultivated in the IAF and MoD at different levels including retired and serving IAF Officials.

The CBI filed a charge sheet against the accused in September 2017.

Mr. Michel entered into 12 contracts through his two firms - Global Trade & Commerce Limited (U.K.) and Global Services FZE (Dubai) - with Finmeccanica, its subsidiary AgustaWestland, Westland Helicopters U.K. and others, allegedly to legitimise the illicit commission on the procurement. India had put in an extradition request for Michel in March 2017.

British middleman hauled to India over chopper scam