Published: Wed, December 05, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

AgustaWestland Chopper Scam: Christian Michel Extradited To India

AgustaWestland Chopper Scam: Christian Michel Extradited To India

Seen as a big win for the Narendra Modi government, this is the first extradition the agency has been able to secure in the case. He was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday night in an operation carried out under the guidance of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.

An amount of €42.27 million (about ₹295 crore) was paid by the Finmeccanica group to his firms as kickbacks without undertaking any work, the CBI alleges.

Michel will be produced before the CBI Court next on December 10.

According to Indian investigative agencies, James had received at least Rs 235 crore for ensuring that the chopper contract went to AgustaWestland. "The truth qua Christian Michel is already out in the open", he claimed.

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The AgustaWestland case involves the deal to purchase 12 luxury choppers for use by the president, prime minister, former prime ministers and other VIPs, at the time when the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government was in power.

On 8 April 2016, the Milan Court of Appeal, in a 225-page judgement, overturned a lower court verdict and convicted helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland's executive Giuseppe Orsi to four years' imprisonment for paying a €30 million bribe to Indian politicians, bureaucrats, and Indian Air Force officials.

"He was tracking the movements of the procurement process files and was sending periodical reports and despatches on the developments to the accused persons connected with AgustaWestland", an officer said.

In this process, he shared the information collected from IAF and MoD with his associate (s), who used to transmit the despatches through fax to the other counterparts sitting overseas in Italy and Switzerland. Renzo Lunardi, the then Commercial Manager of AgustaWestland, proposed his appointment and it was cleared by Mr. Orsi, as alleged.

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Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, in a statement, alleged that facing "imminent defeat" in state polls, Prime Minister Modi and the BJP government were seeking to "weave a web of lies" and construct a "mesh of deception to hoodwink" the people of India in the chopper case. This decision was inspired by James' knowledge of the Indian military. He is one of the three middlemen being examined in the case, along with Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. "Mr. Michel's mother Valerie Fooks runs a trust in the name of Queda Educational Foundation, which is reportedly providing financial assistance to beneficiary students from India to advance their education in foreign countries", the CBI said. However, before he could be arrested, he escaped from India.

According to CBI officials, the chase to nab Michel started in 2014 and in September 2015, a non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against him.

Both the CBI and the ED had notified an Interpol red corner notice against him. India had put in an extradition request for Michel in March 2017.

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