AgustaWestland chopper scam: Christian Michel being taken to CBI HQ

S P Tyagi

S P Tyagi

Giving big nightmares to Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel, Narendra Modi government has won a big diplomatic victory in the deportation of AgustaWestland chopper main middleman Christian Michel from Dubai on Tuesday.

Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman in politically-sensitive Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, was brought to India late on Tuesday night following his extradition by the UAE, the CBI said.

Michel will be taken to CBI Head Quarters from Delhi Airport and in the in the evening produced before the Judge in Patiala House Court for further custody, said a senior CBI official.

While the entire operation was being coordinated by interim director M. Nageswara Rao, a team lead by A. Sai Manohar, the Joint Director of CBI had been accompanying Michel from Dubai.

Michel had moved a bail plea, but the court kept it pending for the next hearing and remanded him to CBI custody. On the basis of this warrant, a Red Corner Notice was issued by the Interpol which led to his arrest in Dubai in February 2017, he said.

India officially made the request to the Gulf nation in 2017 for his extradition, based on the criminal investigations conducted in the case by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

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Modi Government approached Dubai authorities in early 2015, demanding the deportation of Michel, who was the main middlemen accused of bribing top Congress leadership for the controversial purchase of 12 VVIP Helicopters from Italian firm AgustaWestland, worth more than Rs.3600 crore.

The case pertains to the alleged money laundering in the Rs 3,600-crore deal through many channels to favour UK-based AgustaWestland.

Former IAF Chief S P Tyagi was also chargesheeted by the CBI in a Delhi Court along with nine others in connection with a bribery case in the VVIP chopper deal.

Surjewala also said it was time that CBI investigated the prime minister for his alleged role in "exonerating" AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica instead of "weaving a fake story" to deflect attention from the "imminent defeat" in five states.

Michel was also acting as a controller of the two middlemen named Ralph Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

Christian Michel James was a frequent visitor to India and was operating as a middleman for defence procurements through a wide network of sources cultivated in the IAF and MoD at different levels including retired and serving IAF Officials. It was a Rs 3,546 crore contract to supply 12 AW-101 helicopters to the IAF. "During the above meeting they had negotiated a comprehensive fees equal to 7% of the supply contract amount to cover the expenses and fees of both of them".

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