Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal, was brought to India from Dubai on Tuesday evening. He was later taken to the CBI headquarters for questioning. Michel is likely to be produced before a court in Delhi on Wednesday morning.
Earlier, a statement by 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.”
Confirming the development, his lawyer Rosemary Patrizi told news channels in India that his client had always denied allegations of receiving kickbacks in the VVIP chopper deal. She said that Michel will maintain his innocence if the Indian authorities did not drug him.
Reacting to the development, Congress leader Salman Khurshid told ANI, ” I am very impressed that CBI that is tearing itself apart, screaming and shouting at each other with all allegations of corruption doing the rounds before Courts, it still finds the time to go looking for somebody who they can hold responsible for Agusta deal. That too after other countries that are involved in the matter have finished their legal proceedings and come to the conclusion that there’s nothing against these people except an attempt to put pressure on them to somehow involve Congress leaders in this enterprise. Now that’s the game CBI is playing, they’re welcome to play it. I hope they’ve their facts and figure in place to persuade a court.”
The 54-year-old is said to have received 30 million Euros (around Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland, the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica, as kickbacks. The deal, which was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government in 2014, deals with the purchase of 12 luxury helicopters for use by the President, Prime Minister, former prime ministers and other VIPs during Manmohan Singh’s Congress-led coalition government.
His lawyer had alleged in July that the Narendra Modi government was trying apply pressure on Michel to name Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in exchange for amnesty from criminal proceedings.