AgustaWestland chopper scam: CBI says Christian Michel being extradited to India after nod from Dubai govt

FP Staff
Today's top stories: The Congress and BJP trade bards over Christian Michel's reported "Mrs Gandhi" revelation in the AgustaWestland case; India win the third Test against Australia; NASA’s New Horizon sends one final ping before its New Year's Day fly-by of Ultima Thule; and more.

The Dubai government passed an administrative order for the extradition of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal case.

The order was awaited after a top Dubai court upheld a lower court's order in November to consider the possibility of extraditing Michel. According to ANI, Michel is being led to India by UAE authorities.

CNN-News18 reported that Michel is likely to be brought to India by a 9 pm flight on Tuesday. After his extradition, he will be produced before the Patiala House court, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act court, and CBI court.

ANI quoted the CBI as saying that the entire operation is being coordinated by In-charge Director M Nageswara Rao, under the guidance of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. A team led by CBI joint director A Sai Manohar has been to Dubai for the purpose. The significant development comes just months ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. There have been allegations against former prime minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and Congress leader Ahmed Patel in the case. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was in Abu Dhabi for the UAE-India Joint Commission Meeting. According to reports, Swaraj and UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed consular and extradition matters.

A UAE court in September rejected all the contentions raised by Michel's counsel opposing the extradition plea by the Indian authorities. Michel's counsel argued that he may be "exposed to inhuman treatment" and that the case against the accused was "political" in nature.

The court, however, said that "the extradition request had no objectives €" political or racial or religious, but rather the purpose of which is to prosecute him for a criminal offense." and, therefore... "do not prevent the court from surrendering as long as it appears from the file of restitution that the extradition request is not related to reasons other than the crime committed by the wanted person."

The UAE government approached the court in August asking if Michel, a British national, could be extradited to a third country: India.

In January, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) lodged a request with the UAE authorities for extraditing Michel. Both the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed chargesheets in bribery cases in Indian courts and non-bailable warrants had been issued against the accused.

In 2017, a red corner notice was issued against Michel by the Interpol on a request by the CBI. Red corner notices were also issued against two Italians involved in the case €" Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke. According to Indian investigative agencies, Michel had received at least Rs 235 crore for ensuring that the chopper contract went to AgustaWestland.

With inputs from agencies

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