In a major boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to bring back `economic offenders to the country, British national Christian Michel James, a key accused in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, has been taken to the Dubai International Airport for extradition to India.
Michel, who was kept under detention in Dubai, will take the flight to India tonight. 54-year-old Michel was among the alleged middlemen who 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.
In November, the Court of Cassation had upheld a lower court order which said that Michel could be extradited. However, things moved swiftly after the Dubai government has passed an administrative order, earlier today, which will allow Agusta Westland middleman Christian Michel to be extradited.
Based on the criminal investigations conducted in the case by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, India officially made the request to the Gulf nation in 2017 for his extradition.
The alleged conduit of the Rs 3600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal has been the subject of an investigation by Indian authorities and earlier a Dubai top court had ruled that he could be extradited.
Now, Indian authorities are in Dubai to complete the legal arrangement. The Dubai government’s go-ahead was awaited since a top court upheld a lower court’s order saying he could be extradited.
Michel would be brought to India next week. He will be produced to Patiala House Court, the PMLA court and a CBI court. The news will come as a huge sigh of relief for the Modi government which has been besieged by claims of impropriety and being lax with economic offenders.
His lawyers had argued that courts in Italy and Switzerland had declined to extradite his client. Michel had earlier claimed that he would be allowed to ‘walk free’ if implicated Sonia Ganhi and Ahmed Patel.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged he received EUR 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland. 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.