AgustaWestland chopper deal: Michel sent to five-day CBI custody

AgustaWestland chopper deal: Michel sent to five-day CBI custody

New Delhi:  A court in New Delhi on Wednesday sent Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, to Central Bureau of Investigation custody for five days.

After questioning him for several hours, Michel was produced in the court on Wednesday afternoon.

He was extradited to India from Dubai late Tuesday night.

Michel, on his arrival in India, was taken to the CBI headquarters for questioning.

Michel’s extradition comes six years after his alleged involvement in the purchase of VVIP helicopters first surfaced in 2012.

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 government officials had abused their official positions by reducing the service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres, at the time when the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government was in power.

Training his gun at the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said with Michel now in the CBI possession, beans will be spilled revealing names of those who were behind the alleged scam.

“We brought back the middleman Rajdaar (Chritian Michel) of Naamdaars (Gandhi’s) from Dubai. Now even we don’t know what deep troubles his statements are going to cause to Naamdaars,” he thundered while addressing an election rally at Sumerpur in Rajasthan.

On Nov 19, a Dubai court upheld a lower court’s order that allowed AgustaWestland deal’s alleged middleman Christian James Michael’s extradition to India. The Court of Cassation upheld a lower court order which said that Michel could be extradited, dismissing appeals filed by his defence lawyers, media reports said.

That day, Emirati lawyer Abdul Moneim Bin Suwaidan of Bin Suwaidan Firm for Advocates and Legal Counsels, representing Michel, submitted documents showing that courts in Switzerland and Italy had ruled on not to extradite his client, reported Khaleej Times.

Last year, James was arrested in the UAE. The extradition proceedings are going on since then.

The British middleman was wanted in India for allegedly organising bribes in exchange for a contract for VVIP helicopters.

An Italian court investigated the contract because Agusta’s parent company is Finmeccanica, an Italian defence manufacturer, and decided that vast amounts of bribes were routed to India by company executives to land the deal for 12 VVIP helicopters for about Rs. 3,600 crore.

The deal was cancelled by India in 2014 after the Italians began investigating it.

In 2016,  former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi was arrested in connection with the VVIP chopper deal scam. He was the first ever military chief of the nation who was arrested.

–INDIA BLOOMS NEWS SERVICE

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