No Court Order On Missing Agusta Middleman Christian Michel's Extradition

AgustaWestland scam: Christian Michel was arrested in the UAE last year and was out on bail. He is wanted in India for allegedly organising bribes in VVIP chopper contract

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AgustaWestland case: Christian Michel is the main accused and the middleman in the scam


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Christian Michel was arrested in the UAE last year
  2. He was out on bail, wanted in India for allegedly organising bribes
  3. His lawyer Amal Alsubei said he could not be found

A day after Indian investigative agencies said that Christian Michel, a British middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper scandal, would be extradited to India following a Dubai court order, the story has flipped dramatically.

There is no such court order for Michel's extradition, NDTV has learnt.

On August 26, UAE had asked a court on the possibility of extraditing a British national to a third country. On September 2, the court gave its opinion - that extradition is possible - but it was not an order and not specific to Michel.

There has also been no official communication from UAE on Michel. Sources say it would be inexplicable that in all this time, such an extradition order would not be conveyed to India, which is investigating charges that Michel organised bribes to push a contract for VVIP helicopters for top Indian leaders.

Michel has been missing since the day UAE went to court, his lawyer Amal Alsubei, who fought for his bail, told NDTV. "He will be arrested if found. He is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court," said Mr Alsubei.

What added to the confusion over Michel's extradition was that Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, asked about the reported Dubai court order today, called it a "positive development" and said the news has created a "sense of unease in some leaders", apparently referring to the Congress. "It is a good development, but I must point out that I notice a profound sense of unease in some leaders," he said in response to questions.

Michel was arrested in the UAE last year and is out on bail.

The AgustaWestland case involves the purchase of 12 luxury helicopters for use by the President, Prime Minister, former prime ministers and other VIPs, when Manmohan Singh's Congress-led coalition was in power.

In 2014, the government scrapped the contract amid allegations that AgustaWestland, whose parent company Finmeccanica faced charges of bribery in Italy, had paid kickbacks in India.

The Enforcement Directorate has charged Michel with receiving 30 million Euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland as kickbacks. Michel is one of the three middlemen being examined in the case, along with Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

In July, Michel's lawyer alleged that he was being pressured by Indian agencies to frame Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in return for amnesty from criminal proceedings.

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