Augusta Westland scam middleman Christian Michel to be extradited to India

AgustaWestland-helicopter12

The Hush Post: A court in UAE has ordered the extradition of a UK national Christian Michel James to India. He is a key accused in the UPA-era Augusta Westland chopper scam.

Michel probably knows about the Indian politicians and bureaucrats who were paid bribes in the Rs 3,727 crore chopper deal, a report said.

As the Augusta Westland scam dates to the UPA government, the BJP will try to put the focus on Congress. It may also help the Modi government counter Congress attacks over alleged corruption in the Rafale deal. Besides, the Modi government will also try to counter the issues of offenders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi.

The NDA government is under pressure to show results in anti-corruption investigations.  Michel’s links could pose a problem for people who were at senior levels in the UPA-Congress regime. It becomes important due to his prominence in the controversial deal. A TOI report said that Michel’s extradition was confirmed to them through unofficial channels.

UAE yet to send an official document

UAE is yet to officially send any document to the authorities here. The investigating agencies have accessed the UAE court’s extradition order. As the order is in Arabic, authorities were translating it into English, the report said.

Michel was allegedly given 042 million (around Rs 350 crore) by Anglo-Italian firm — AgustaWestland — for bribing Indian politicians, defence ministry officials, bureaucrats, IAF officials including its then chief SP Tyagi and others for swinging the contract in favour of the company for supply of 12 VVIP choppers.

He was arrested in February 2017 by the UAE and since then, extradition proceedings are going on. He is presently out on bail there. The CBI and ED teams visited UAE a couple of times in the last one year to share documents. These documents  include charge-sheet, witness statements and other evidence, with the UAE authorities and the court.

The officials say Michel’s extradition is a big victory as far as establishing his links in political circles are concerned. The officials exuded confidence that actual culprits could now be identified once his interrogation begins in India. “Only he could tell who is ‘AP’, ‘Pol’, ‘Bur’ and ‘AF’ in the note he got written for paying bribes,” an officer said.

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