Agusta Westland chopper deal: Michel to be produced before Delhi Court
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Agusta Westland chopper deal: Michel to be produced before Delhi Court

New Delhi, Dec 5 : British national Christian Michel James, a key accused in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, who was "extradited by UAE authorities" and brought to Delhi on Tuesday night, will be produced to a Delhi court by the CBI soon.

Michel is being taken by the CBI to the court amid heavy security, the sources said.

In a high profile operation overseen at the very top level , under the guidance of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and coordinated directly by interim CBI chief M Nageshwar Rao, British national Christian Michel James, a key accused in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, was "extradited by UAE authorities" and brought to Delhi on Tuesday night.

Michel was flown in to the country by a chartered plane that landed at IGI airport at around 2235 hours.

In a statement, CBI said, 'wanted fugitive criminal Christian Michel James who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in AgustaWestland Case is being extradited by UAE Authorities to India.'

The CBI said the entire operation was coordinated by interim CBI director M Nageswara Rao under the guidance of Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor.

A team led by A Sai Manohar, CBI Joint Director, was sent to Dubai for the purpose.

Soon after landing at the IGI airport, Michel was taken to AIIMS for a medical check up post which he will be taken to the CBI headquarters, sources said.

The developments happened on a day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made a two-day visit to UAE and high level interactions.

Sources said 54-year-old Michel was among the alleged middlemen who brokered the deal and who, investigators claim, paid bribes to officials and politicians to swing the contract in favour of AgustaWestland, the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica.

There was a minor legal tussle but the Court of Cassation had upheld a lower court order earlier that Michel could be extradite.

In 1999, the Indian Air Force came up with a proposal for the acquisition of 12 VVIP helicopters to ferry top government functionaries. A year later, the deal was granted to AgustaWestland for over Rs 3,600 crore.

However, this was followed by allegations that technical specifications had been breached and tweaked — including lowering of the service ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000 m to 4,500 m —to help AgustaWestland qualify and finally and win the contract.

The BJP , during its opposition days, had charged that huge bribes were allegedly paid.

In 2013, the FIR named former IAF chief S P Tyagi and 12 other individuals as accused, apart from four companies.

These individuals included members of the Tyagi family and three middlemen — Michel, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke.

It was alleged that Michel conspired with the co-accused that included officials from the IAF.

He used to allegedly share the information he collected from the IAF and MOD through associates, and the information was then transmitted through fax to accomplices in Italy and Switzerland, the CBI said in a statement.

He allegedly used to visit to India often and was operating as a middleman for defence procurement via

network of sources he established in the IAF and the Defence Ministry , the probe agency said.

He was arrested in February 2017 by UAE authorities on the strength of an INTERPOL Red Notice.

CBI had filed a Charge sheet in the court on 01.09.2017 against the fugitive criminal Christian Michel James and 11 other accused persons.

The ED too later plunged into investigations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Sources said there was 'no vindictive' politics in the entire case. "Initially the investigation conducted by Italian authorities had also indicted Michael Christian," a source said.

Extradition of Christian Michel is a shot in the arm for the Narendra Modi government.

'Now that he will be available to the CBI, the ‘real’ bribe-receivers of the AgustaWestland bribes scandal will be exposed,” Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said.(UNI)