New Delhi: Christian Michel, the British middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper scandal, will be extradited, a court in Dubai has ruled. Mr Michel was arrested in the UAE last year and was facing extradition proceedings in the country. He is wanted in India for allegedly organising bribes in exchange for a contract for VVIP helicopters.
The AgustaWestland case involves a 2007 contract signed by the government for the purchase of 12 luxury helicopters for use by top leaders, including the President, Prime Minister and former prime ministers.
In 2013, the government scrapped the contract amid allegations that the supplier AgustaWestland, whose parent company Finmeccanica ran into allegations of bribe-giving in Italy, had paid kickbacks in India.
Former Air Chief SP Tyagi, 72, was arrested in 2016 over allegations that he accepted bribes to tailor specifications at the instance of his cousins. He became the first ever military chief – former or current – to be arrested.
The Congress says that once talk of kickbacks erupted in Italy, it cancelled the helicopter deal, blacklisted the company and asked the CBI to investigate the scam. It also confiscated the company’s assets in India and abroad.
Earlier in July this year, the Mr Michel lawyer said he was being pressured by Indian agencies to frame Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in return for exoneration from criminal proceedings.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, however, refuted the allegation and said its team had not examined him in the UAE at all.
On Tuesday, the CBI, which is investigating the case, said it was yet receive an official confirmation of the extradition order.