AgustaWestland scam: Middleman Christian Michel to be produced in Delhi court

AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel extradited to India Edited By IANS | By IANS On Dec 4 2018- 23:29:04

AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel extradited to India Edited By IANS | By IANS On Dec 4 2018- 23:29:04

Michel was earlier taken to CBI headquarters following a medical check-up after being brought to India, in a move that many see as a significant win for the Indian government.

Michel fought back strongly in court in Dubai, arguing he could not be extradited since he was a British national.

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. Christian James Michel was on the line.

CBI told the court it wants to confront Michel with evidence and also unearth the money trail in the scam. Both leaders' photos were shown to Haschke during the trial by Italian Prosecutors and he confirmed that Michel was handling politicians and he was handling officials in Defence Ministry and Indian Air Force through agents.

Mr. Michel's role in the purchase of 12 helicopters surfaced in 2012 as a middleman for swinging the deal in favour of AgustaWestland and making illegal payments to Indian public servants.

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What is the chopper scam?

In Italy, the former head of AgustaWestland and of parent company Finmeccanica were given jail sentences in 2014 over the scandal but they were later acquitted. "Mr. Michel's mother Valerie Fooks runs a trust in the name of Queda Educational Foundation, which is reportedly providing financial assistance to beneficiary students from India to advance their education in foreign countries", the CBI said. Michel also allegedly paid off influential people in India, who helped reject Russian and American choppers. The other two accused by the agencies are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

The ED, in its chargesheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received about Rs 225 crore from AgustaWestland. At least 12 phoney contracts were signed between his firms and AgustaWestland to legitimise approximately Rs 295 crore paid as kickbacks to secure the deal. An Interpol red corner notice (RCN) has also been notified against Michel after the court had issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

It was alleged that he had entered into a criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons, which included the then IAF chief SP Tyagi and his family members, and the public servants had abused their official positions by reducing service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres. AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties after this change.

India officially made the request to the Gulf nation in 2017 for his extradition, based on the criminal investigations conducted in the case by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). However, Michel has denied all the accusations and even written a letter to the prime minister clarifying his position.

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