The CBI will soon approach UAE authorities seeking extradition of British national and alleged middleman Christian Michel James in connection with its probe in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal.
Official sources said the agency will seek cooperation from their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates in order to take the probe forward regarding suspected “bribes paid to politicians and bureaucrats” in the case.
Michel is one of the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by CBI and Enforcement Directorate.
Both the agencies have notified an Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him even as the ED has already made a similar request to UAE authorities against Michel.
Michel, said to a “key” man in the deal, was extensively interviewed by the Indian media in Dubai earlier this year and both the agencies want him to join their respective probes in the said case.
ED has filed a charge sheet against him in June under money laundering charges and it had said Michel received Euro 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.
It had said that 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.
ED had also brought on record, in the charge sheet, that the three middlemen “managed to” make inroads into the Indian Air Force (IAF) to influence the stand of the officials into reducing the service ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m in 2005. AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties after this change.
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.
CBI had also got issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to multiple countries to gather more leads and evidences in this case.