Christian Michel: AgustaWestland chopper deal middleman extradited to India

British national Christian Michel, wanted by Indian investigative agencies in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case, was handed over to India by UAE on Tuesday. He reached IGI Airport in New Delhi at night.

Christian Michel: Agusta Westland scam middleman taken to Dubai airport for flight to India
British national Christian Michel, wanted by Indian investigative agencies in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case, was taken to the Dubai International Airport on Tuesday. Photo: File
By: Agencies
Updated: 04 Dec 2018 11:27 PM
DUBAI: British national Christian Michel, wanted by Indian investigative agencies in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case, was extradited to India on Tuesday. Michel took a flight to India from the Dubai International Airport on Tuesday night and landed at New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport at around 11 pm.

The Court of Cassation had in November upheld a lower court order which said that Michel could be extradited. Michel, 54, was taken to the Dubai International Airport on Tuesday, where he would take a flight to India, the Khaleej Times reported.

Confirming the extradition, CBI 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." Under the guidance of Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor (NSA), the entire operation is being coordinated by Incharge Director of CBI M. Nageswara Rao, it said in a statement, adding that a team lead by A. Sai Manohar, Joint Director of CBI has been to Dubai for the purpose.

India officially made the request to the Gulf nation in 2017 for his extradition, based on the criminal investigations conducted in the case by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The ED, in its chargesheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received EUR 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.

The money was nothing but "kickbacks" paid by the firm to execute the 12 helicopter deal in favour of the firm in "guise of" genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country, according to the chargesheet.

Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the ED and the CBI. Both the agencies have notified an Interpol red corner notice (RCN) against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

The ED investigation found that remittances made by Michel through his Dubai-based firm Global Services to a media firm he floated in Delhi, along with two Indians, were made from the funds which he got from AgustaWestland through "criminal activity" and corruption being done in the chopper deal that led to the subsequent generation of proceeds of crime.

Michel denies the charges.

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 CBI, which registered an FIR in the case on March 12, 2013, had alleged several persons had received kickbacks from AgustaWestland to help it win the contract.

Role of Christian Michel James in AgustaWestland case:

1: Christian Michel entered into criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons and in pursuance thereof, the public servants had abused their official positions by reduction of service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6000 metres to 4500 metres and a contract for an amount of Euro 556.262 million was awarded to M/s AgustaWestland International Ltd (AWIL), UK by the Government of India through Ministry of Defence on 08.02.2010 for the procurement of 12 VVIP/non VVIP helicopters.

2: Keeping his proven expertise and experience in India, Christian Michel James was imposed as a controller on the other two middlemen namely Ralph Guido Haschke and Mr.Carlo Gerosa (already roped in by M/s AgustaWestland) as they had no specific knowledge in the specific sector of helicopters. Renzo Lunardi, the then Commercial Manager, M/s AgustaWestland proposed his appointment to which Giuseppe Orsi, CEO M/s AgustaWestland (during 2005-2011) agreed.

3: A meeting was held in Cascina Costa, Italy during July, 2006 and Lunardi in the presence of Orsi proposed that Christian Michel James will join 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. During the above meeting they had negotiated a comprehensive fees equal to 7% of the supply contract amount to cover the expenses and fees of both of them.

4: Mr. Christian Michel entered into as many as 12 contracts through two of his from firms namely M/s Global Trade & Commerce Ltd. London and M/s Global Services FZE, Dubai, UAE with Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Westland Helicopters UK etc. to legitimise the illicit commission on the Procurement of VVIP Helicopters by Ministry of Defence, India. An amount of Euro 42.27million (Rs. 295.00 Crore approx.) was paid by the Finmeccanica Group to the firms of Mr. Christian Michel James as kickbacks/bribe without undertaking any work against the receipt of such amount.

5: Christian Michel will be examined with respect to his involvement in the case and confronted with documents recovered during raids by Swiss Authorities and received by CBI through LRs indicating the bribes paid by Christian Michel James to the Indian Authorities for securing the contract for supply of VVIP Helicopters from M/s AgustaWestland.