AgustaWestland chopper case LIVE Updates: British High Commission seeks consular access to Christian Michel

Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman in politically-sensitive Rs 3,600-crore Agusta Westland chopper deal, was brought to India late Tuesday night following his extradition by the UAE. CBI in its press note said “Wanted fugitive criminal Christian Michel James who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in AgustaWestland Case is being extradited by UAE Authorities to India.” Michel landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on a Gulfstream jet at 2235 hours after operation code-named \'Unicorn\' was carried out under the guidance of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and being coordinated by interim CBI Director M Nageswar Rao.

By: | Updated: 05 Dec 2018 07:54 PM
05 Dec 2018, 7:54 PM IST
Our staff continue to support the family of a British man following his detention in the UAE. We are in contact with his family and the Emirati authorities regarding his case, and are urgently seeking information from the Indian authorities on his circumstances," the spokesperson of the High Commission said .
05 Dec 2018, 7:53 PM IST
A spokesperson of the British High Commission said information has been sought from the Indian authorities urgently on Michel's circumstances". Another official said, "we have sought consular access to Michel."
05 Dec 2018, 7:50 PM IST
The British High Commission sought consular access to Christian Michel, a day after he was brought to India from the UAE to face probe in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal scam.
05 Dec 2018, 6:59 PM IST
The court asked the CBI to provide all relevant documents including the charge sheet to Michel. A bail plea was also moved on his behalf. The court did not give any specific date for hearing the bail plea.
05 Dec 2018, 6:59 PM IST
Michel's advocate asked the court to send him to judicial custody but the CBI sought his 14-days custodial interrogation to confront him with evidence and unearth the money trail in the scam. However, the judge allowed CBI to interrogate Michel for five days in its custody.
05 Dec 2018, 6:59 PM IST
Michel was on Wednesday produced before a Delhi court which allowed his five-day custodial interrogation by the CBI. He will again be produced in the court on December 10. Michel was produced before Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar which allowed discussions between him and his advocate for five minutes.
05 Dec 2018, 2:42 PM IST
Shantanu Sen (Former Joint Director, CBI) says “bribes to Indians were paid by Christian Michel. He was the main middlemen in the deal. His interrogation will reveal very important disclosure. His role as a middle men was confirmed by CBI court that is why he is extradited.”
05 Dec 2018, 11:32 AM IST
On extradition of Christian Michel to India, Geeta Luthra (counsel for one of the accused in Agustawestland case) says “let's see how it goes. I think it's very interesting because he was according to them one of the king prince. As long as it is the fair investigation by the enforcement directorate which i hope it will be you will get more truth out. I think that’s really what we are looking at that the actual facts should emerge. The manner in which the complaint has done is rather loose and not strong. Also the country verity all originated which is the Italian court have already exonerated. I think the first thing they should do is they should place those findings before the Italian courts in front of the Indian court. Having said that if they do want to have a parallel investigation then they should have that as the starting point.”
05 Dec 2018, 11:26 AM IST
During a press conference in Jaipur, Amit Shah says “opposition does not have any issue to raise..you tell me shouldn't a middleman be caught or not?: Amit Shah on Opposition's allegations that Christian Michel's extradition is to divert attention from core issues.” He also asked Does Opposition want to protect Christian Michel"
05 Dec 2018, 11:22 AM IST
ANI reports, Christian Michel will be produced before special judge Arvind Kumar in Patiala House Court in Delhi
05 Dec 2018, 10:48 AM IST
News Agency ANI reports, Questioning of alleged middleman in the Agusta Westland helicopter deal, Christian Michel continues at CBI HQ.
05 Dec 2018, 9:46 AM IST
Earlier on Tuesday, Michel landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on a Gulfstream jet after operation code-named 'Unicorn' was carried out under the guidance of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and being coordinated by interim CBI Director M Nageswar Rao.
05 Dec 2018, 9:44 AM IST
In the case, the CBI is preparing papers before questioning. As per reports, in the Patiala court, CBI will seek 15 days remand.
05 Dec 2018, 9:41 AM IST
Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman in politically-sensitive Rs 3,600-crore Agusta Westland chopper deal, will be presented before the Patiala House court today.
New Delhi: Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman in politically-sensitive Rs 3,600-crore Agusta Westland chopper deal, was brought to India late Tuesday night following his extradition by the UAE. CBI in its press note said, “Wanted fugitive criminal Christian Michel James who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in AgustaWestland Case is being extradited by UAE Authorities to India.” Michel landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on a Gulfstream jet at 2235 hours after operation code-named 'Unicorn' was carried out under the guidance of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and being coordinated by interim CBI Director M Nageswar Rao. The CBI said that Michel has been brought back to India after completion of the extradition process.

The UAE government had cleared the extradition of 57-year-old Michel after his appeal against the move was turned down by a court there. His alleged involvement in the chopper deal surfaced in 2012 as a middleman for swinging the deal in favour of AgustaWestland and for making illegal payment of commissions or kickbacks to the Indian authorities, CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said.Michel was wanted for investigation but he escaped and had avoided joining the probe, he said. A charge sheet was filed against him in September last year. "An open non-bailable arrest warrant dated September 24, 2015, was issued by the special judge, CBI cases, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi," he said. On the basis of this warrant, a Red Corner Notice was issued by the Interpol which led to his arrest in Dubai in February 2017, he said. 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, who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in the AgustaWestland case, is being extradited by the UAE authorities to India. Michel was behind bars in Dubai since he was arrested and sent to custody pending the legal and judicial procedure in the UAE.

The ruling BJP said the extradition in the case from the UPA era is a diplomatic victory for India and could spell "serious trouble" for the Congress's "first family", referring to Gandhis. It also asserted that the development was an unequivocal affirmation of the Narendra Modi government's "seriousness in fighting corruption". In the case, 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. It was alleged that he had entered into a criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons, which included the then IAF chief SP Tyagi and his family members, and the public servants had abused their official positions by reducing service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres.

The reduction in ceiling made AgustaWestland eligible for contract worth  556.262 million Euros, which was awarded to it by the Defence Ministry on February 08, 2010, for procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters. He has been alleged to be a "historical consultant" of the AgustaWestland helicopters in the UK with technical operational knowledge of the aircraft, the military bases and the pilots, the CBI spokesperson said in a statement. Michel worked with the company since the 1980s and before that his father had also been a consultant of the company for the Indian territory, the statement said. He was allegedly a frequent visitor to India and was operating as a middleman for defence procurement through a wide network of sources cultivated in the IAF and the Defence Ministry at different levels, including through retired and serving IAF officials, the agency said. Michel allegedly shared the information collected from the IAF and the ministry with his associates, who used to transmit the despatches through fax to other counterparts sitting in Italy and Switzerland, the CBI said. "...He was updating and informing the management of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland, namely Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini and others, about his efforts in India for securing supply contract of VVIP Helicopters," the statement said.

In July 2006, AgustaWestland's commercial manager Renzo Lunardi had proposed that Michel will join other middlemen Ralph Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa in carrying out "scouting and monitoring activities" with regard to the acquisition of helicopters in India, keeping in view of his "knowledge of Indian military operational mechanism", it said. During that meeting in Italy, they had negotiated a comprehensive fee equal to 7 per cent of the supply contract amount to cover the expenses and their payments. Michel allegedly entered into 12 contracts through two of his firms London-based Global Trade and Commerce and Dubai-based Global Services FZE with Finmeccanica to camouflage and legitimise the alleged bribe received by him for clinching the deal, the CBI said.