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

Leroy Wright
December 5, 2018

Day after VVIP chopper deal middleman Christian Michel was extradited to India from Dubai, the CBI was granted five days to keep him in custody for interrogation in the Rs 3600 crore scam.

Michel, who is a British national, was brought to India late on Tuesday night a fortnight after the highest court in UAE paved the way for his extradition.

54-year-old Michel was among the alleged middlemen who brokered the chopper 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.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received Euro 30 million (about Rs 2.25 billion) from AgustaWestland.

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

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James, who in previous interviews with Indian newspapers denied any wrongdoing, was detained in Dubai in February 2017 following an Indian arrest warrant and an Interpol notice. A bail plea was also moved on behalf of him.

An investigation launched by Italian authorities into the irregularities in the AgustaWestland deal in 2014 indicted Christian Michel James for global bribery and corruption. Michel has alleged that the diaries were written by Guido Haschke, another alleged middleman and co-accused in the VVIP chopper scandal.

Like James, the CBI stated, Wolfgang Michel, too, acted as a mediator for other countries in the 1980s, promoting three companies - Entera Corporation, UCM International Trading Ltd and Ferro-Imports Ltd - with Entera Corporation reportedly earning more than 2 million GBP from India between 1987 and 1996. AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties after this change. Even before Michel, his father had also been a consultant of AgustaWestland, UK for the Indian Territory.

He was allegedly a frequent visitor to India and was operating as a middleman for defence procurement through a wide network of sources cultivated in the IAF and the Defence Ministry at different levels, including through retired and serving IAF officials, the agency said.

Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, in a statement, alleged that facing "imminent defeat" in state polls, Prime Minister Modi and the BJP government were seeking to "weave a web of lies" and construct a "mesh of deception to hoodwink" the people of India in the chopper case.

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