AgustaWestland scam: VVIP chopper deal middleman Christian Michel will be kept in safe house
Christian Michel, the British national accused in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper scam, will be kept in a safe house and not a jail after he lands in India. He is being brought in a private jet, which belongs to the UAE government, from Dubai. He will soon be produced before a CBI special judge's court in New Delhi. He is expected to reach the Delhi airport by 11pm.
Reports say the Indian government pursued the matter related to Christian Michel's extradition closely and worked with the UAE authorities to expedite the process.
Even as Christian Michel, 54, is being extradited to India, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is still in Dubai. She was there to attend the 12th session of India-UAE Joint Commission meeting on Wednesday. The move to extradite Michel comes after the courts in Dubai said Michel could be extradited and upheld the lower court order, dismissing appeals filed by his defence lawyers.
Earlier, Christian Michel boarded the flight to India along with the Indian authorities who were in Dubai to complete the extradition process. Khaleej Times reported that Michel was taken to the Dubai International Airport and has boarded a flight to India.
Michel has been accused by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of receiving about Euro 30 million (approximately Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland to influence the deal in its favour.
His involvement in the 12 VVIP helicopter deal surfaced in 2012 when he was accused of swinging the deal in favour of AgustaWestland and making illegal payment of kickback to the Indian authorities.
Initially, the investigation conducted by the Italian authorities indicted him for the offences of international bribery. After the CBI took up the case, he fled from India. Apart from Michel, the other two accused being probed by the agencies in the case are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
An Interpol red corner notice (RCN) was notified against Christian Michel in November 2015 after the court had issued a non-bailable warrant against him. He was arrested by the UAE authorities in February 2017, following which the CBI filed chargesheet in the court in September 2017 against Christian Michel and 11 other suspects.
The CBI's request for his extradition was forwarded to the UAE authorities in March 2017.
India had scrapped 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland in January 2014 over the breach of contractual obligations and the charges of paying Rs 423 crore kickbacks. Former Air Force chief SP Tyagi was also arrested over the allegations of reducing the flying ceiling of the helicopter to put AgustaWestland in the race.