Video: Agusta middleman extradited to India, CBI takes custody

Amira Agarib and Marie Nammour/Dubai
Filed on December 5, 2018 | Last updated on December 5, 2018 at 08.30 am

(ANI photo)

James is likely to be presented at a special CBI court in Delhi on Wednesday afternoon.

Christian James Michel, a British middleman wanted by Indian investigative agencies in connection with the Rs36 billion AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, has been extradited from the UAE to India.

He was taken straight to the CBI headquarters from the airport.

James is one of the three middlemen being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the alleged scam.

Subsequently, he was escorted by a Delhi Police team to the CBI headquarters in south Delhi's Lodhi Road area for interrogation over his alleged role in the purchase of 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland. James is likely to be presented at a special CBI court in Delhi's Patiala House court on Wednesday afternoon.

After Dubai's Court of Cassation last month upheld a lower court order which said that Michel could be extradited, he was kept under detention at the police's Criminal Investigation Department (CID). He was extradited via the Dubai International Airport on Tuesday evening.

Emirati lawyer Abdul Moneim bin Suwaidan of Bin Suwaidan Firm for Advocates and Legal Counsels, who represented Michel in Dubai, confirmed his extradition. "The extradition order was expected to be executed by the law enforcement authorities any moment after the end of his trial and upon completion of the regular administrative procedures," Bin Suwaidan told Khaleej Times.

The lawyer said Michel will stand trial in India on corruption charges.

Michel is one of three middlemen being probed in the case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the scam.

In January, the ED had lodged a request with the UAE authorities for extraditing Michel. Both the ED and the CBI had filed chargesheets in bribery cases in Indian courts and non-bailable warrants had been issued against him.

On September 2, the Dubai Court of Appeals had ruled that he could be extradited to the authorities concerned in India. After he challenged the ruling, Dubai's top court on November 19 upheld the ruling.

Last year, a Red Corner notice (RCN) was issued against Michel by the Interpol on a request by the CBI. RCNs were also issued against two Italians involved in the scam - Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke.

According to Indian investigative agencies, Michel was a frequent visitor to India, having undertaken 300 trips between 1997 and 2013.

The ED officials earlier had said that bribes to Michel were paid through a web of companies located abroad and in India on the pretext of payment for consultancy work.

In its chargesheet, the CBI had named former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie, then IAF Vice Chief J.S. Gujral and advocate Gautam Khaitan as the four Indians involved in the scam.

The chargesheet mentioned Khaitan as the "brain" behind the deal.

Others named in the chargesheet included Giuseppe Orsi, the former chief of Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, former CEO of AgustaWestland, apart from middlemen Michel, Haschke and Gerosa.

On January 1, 2014, India cancelled the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and on charges of paying kickbacks.

The CBI, which registered an FIR in the case on March 12, 2013, had alleged that Tyagi and the other accused received kickbacks from AgustaWestland to help it win the contract.

(With inputs from IANS)

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