Christian Michel Extradited: When Agusta Middleman Went Missing
It is alleged that Michel was hired by AgustaWestland to broker the deal for the supply of 12 helicopters to India.
Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the VVIP chopper scam and UK national, was extradited to India from UAE in the wee hours of Wednesday, 5 December. But just a few months ago, Michel had reportedly gone missing.
Michel’s lawyer, Amal Alsubei had told NDTV that Michel had gone missing from the day UAE went to the court. Alsubei also added that the middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore deal will be arrested when found, and that he is likely to appeal in Supreme Court.
According to the reports, on 26 August, UAE had asked a court on the possibility of extraditing a British national, not specifically Michel, to a third country, NDTV reported.
The reports of Michel going missing came a day after reports of a UAE court ordering extradition of the middleman to India surfaced.
Michel was arrested in the UAE in 2017 and was out on bail then.
Who is Christian Michel?
At the time of the Rs 3,600-crore scam (early 2013), Christian Michel was a well-known British consultant who was very active in the Indian defence sector. It was alleged that he was hired by AgustaWestland to facilitate the deal for the supply of 12 helicopters to India in 2010.
In its chargesheet filed against Michel in June 2016, the ED had alleged that he received EUR 30 million (approximately Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland as “kickbacks” to execute the deal and to make it look like a genuine transaction.
Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the ED and CBI.
The ED had also brought on the record that the three middlemen "managed to" make inroads into the Indian Air Force (IAF) to influence the stand of officials to reduce the service ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres in 2005, according to PTI.
AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties after this change.
Moreover, according to ED investigation, remittances made by Michel through his Dubai-based firm Global Services to a media firm he floated in Delhi, along with two Indians, were made from the funds which he got from AgustaWestland through “criminal activity” and corruption being done in the chopper deal, reported PTI.
A Red Corner Notice was issued against Michel in 2015 by Interpol on the request of both the ED and CBI, the Economic Times had reported. India has been trying to secure Michel’s extradition for the past one year.
In July 2018, after he was granted bail in Dubai, Michel had accused Indian investigators of pressuring him to name UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and frame senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel in return for a clean chit in the multi-crore scam.
On 19 July, while he was in custody, his lawyer Rosemary Patrizi had made similar charges against the Indian probe agencies, although CBI had denied the allegations.
(With inputs from PTI, News18, NDTV and Economic Times)
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