Christian Michel sent to 5-day CBI custody

S P Tyagi

S P Tyagi

The move is even more significant because Michel is a British national being extradited to India from Dubai.Hindustan Times, owned by HT Media Ltd, is one of India's largest publications that provides unbiased news, analysis and features on politics, sports, entertainment, lifestyle and more.

The CBI on Wednesday, 5 December, got five-day custody of alleged middleman Christian Michel in the AgustaWestland chopper deal case.

The order was passed by Special CBI judge Arvind Kumar after Michel was produced before him by the agency. A team led by the agency's Joint Director A. Sai Manohar visited Dubai for the objective, said the CBI in a statement. The Dubai Court of Cassation dismissed the two objections filed by Michel's lawyers and upheld the appellate court's decision to consider the possibility of extraditing him to the competent Indian authorities. Both the agencies have notified an Interpol red corner notice (RCN) against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

Michel is one of the three middlemen being investigated by the ED and the CBI. Months later on 1 September 2017, a charge sheet was filed against him and the trial court took cognizance of the offences on 11 October 2017. The ED had also claimed in the chargesheet that the three middlemen managed to make inroads into the IAF to influence the stand of the officials into reducing the service ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 metre to 4,500 metre in 2005.

Michel worked with the company since the 1980s and before that his father had also been a consultant of the company for the Indian territory, the statement said.

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Christian Michel was among the alleged middlemen who had brokered the deal and who, investigators claim, paid bribes to officials and politicians to swing the contract in favour of AgustaWestland, the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica.

India cancelled the Rs 3,600 crore deal with AgustaWestland in January 2014. The money was nothing but kickbacks paid by the firm to execute the 12 helicopter deal in favour of the firm in guise of of genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country, it had alleged.

Michel allegedly shared the information collected from the IAF and the ministry with his associates, who used to transmit the despatches through fax to other counterparts sitting in Italy and Switzerland, the CBI said.

"He will be examined with respect to his involvement in the case and confronted with documents recovered during raids by Swiss authorities, indicating that he bribed Indian authorities for securing the contract for supply of VVIP helicopters", a CBI officer said.

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