New Delhi: In a major late night breakthrough for India’s investigative agencies in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, middleman Christian Michel James was extradited to India from Dubai.
Persons familiar with the developments confirmed that Michel landed in India at 10:45pm after which he was taken to the headquarters of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for further questioning.
Michel will be produced at the Capital’s Patiala House Court, on Wednesday.
The CBI on Tuesday confirmed that fugitive criminal Christian Michel James who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in the AgustaWestland Case “is being extradited by UAE Authorities to India. Under the guidance of Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor (NSA)."
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.
The CBI had filed its first chargesheet in the AgustaWestland scam in September 2017, in which it alleged that Christian Michel through his companies had received 42.27 million euros for the purpose of payment for service and consultancy contracts in 2010-11.
At the same time, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received 30 million euros (about ₹ 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.
The money, ED alleged, was “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 said.
Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the ED and the CBI.
India is investigating charges that Michel organized bribes to push a ₹ 3,600 crore contract for VVIP helicopters to be purchased for top Indian leaders.
The AgustaWestland case involves the deal to purchase 12 luxury choppers for use by the president, prime minister, former prime ministers and other VIPs, at the time when the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government was in power.