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AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel extradited to India

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AgustaWestland AW101

Senior investigators at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) added that prior to his role in the chopper deal, James had also worked with Westland Helicopters Limited (WHL), UK, since the 1980s - taking up the mantle from his father, Wolfgang Max Richard Michel, who had also served as a consultant of AgustaWestland, UK, for the Indian Territory. A formal administrative order by the Dubai government was long awaited after the Dubai's highest court had rejected Michel's plea against extradition.

On January 1, 2014, India cancelled 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 on charges of paying kickbacks amounting to Rs 423 crore.

The Enforcement Directorate has accused Michel of receiving 30 million Euros (about Rs. 225 crores) from AgustaWestland as kickbacks.

"However, he escaped from India and had been deliberately evading his presence from the investigating agency and also the due process of law in India".

The UAE government had arrested Michel in February 2017 on an Interpol Red Corner notice which was issued after a lot of efforts were made by the CBI.

Michel, 54, landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on a Gulfstream jet at 10.35 pm Tuesday night after which he was arrested by the CBI in connection with the case.

In a prosecution complaint filed a year ago, the ED had alleged that Michel had paid several people in cash.

Others named in the chargesheet are - Tyagi's cousin Sanjeev alias Julie, advocate Gautam Khaitan, alleged European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel, Guido Haschke, former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini and former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi. 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.

The Dubai Court of Cassation had earlier 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.

He has been alleged to be a "historical consultant" of the AgustaWestland helicopters in the United Kingdom with technical operational knowledge of the aircraft, the military bases and the pilots, the CBI spokesperson said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear whether Michel would be kept in a safe house or in the CBI headquarters itself for the night before being produced in a court. Michel has been accused of bribing influential people in India to secure the deal.

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