In a major development in Agusta Westland Scam, Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the 3,600 crore VVIP chopper scandal who was extradited by Dubai, reached New Delhi on Tuesday night. Michel's lawyer confirmed the news hours after the Dubai government, early in the day, passed an administrative order, clearing the decks for Michel's extradition to India.
There are also reports that Indian authorities had been in Dubai for the last few days to complete the legal formalities to bring Michel to India. He will be produced before Delhi's Patiala House Court, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act court, and a CBI court, seeking his custodial interrogation in the case.
Briefing the media about the latest developments, the CBI said, "Wanted fugitive criminal Christian Michel James who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in Agusta Westland Case is being extradited by UAE Authorities to India".
"Under the guidance of Shri Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor (NSA), the entire operation is being coordinated by Incharge Director/CBI Shri M. Nageswara Rao. A team lead by Shri A. Sai Manohar, Joint Director/CBI has been in Dubai for the purpose," the press note added.
The extradition order by the Dubai government was long awaited after Dubai's top court had on November 19, upheld a lower court's order to consider the possibility of Michel's extradiiton to India. The UAE Court in September rejected Michel's appeal, opposing the extradition plea by the Indian authorities. His counsel argued that india may expose Michel to "inhuman treatment" and the case against the accused was "political" in nature.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress leader Ahmed Patel are also accused in the case on Wednesday.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), in 2016, filed a charge sheet against Michel, alleging that he received EUR 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from Agusta Westland. Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Both the agencies had notified an Interpol Red Corner Notice against him after the court issued an open non-bailable warrant. The Red Notice vide Control No A-9846/11-2015 against Michel was published on November 25, 2015 by INTERPOL Headquarter, Lyon, France.
On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.
The CBI has alleged there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (approximately Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth Euro 556.262 million.