VVIP chopper deal: ED seeks Michel’s extradition

Christian Michel. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The Enforcement Directorate has moved a request for the extradition of Christian Michel, alleged “middleman” in the VVIP helicopter deal, from the UAE.

He had allegedly received at least €30 million for ensuring that the contract went to AgustaWestland.

The request will be sent to the UAE via the External Affairs Ministry. The Home Ministry is now scrutinising the documents. The proceedings have been initiated under the extradition treaty between the two countries after both the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation filed charge sheets in their respective bribery cases.

Non-bailable warrants have already been issued against Michel and on India’s request, the Interpol has subjected him to a Red Notice.

Michel’s case comes under Clause (a) of Article 2 of the extradition treaty, which provides that persons accused of an offence punishable under the laws of both the contracting states by imprisonment for a period of at least one year or more can be extradited.

Under Article 9, in case of urgency, India can also request his detention and submit the extradition request with relevant documents within 40 days. Agencies can also seek attachment of proceeds of the alleged offence under Article 13.

However, amid reports that an inquiry is pending against Michel in the UAE, there is a suspicion that he may take recourse to Article 15 of the Treaty, under which anyone facing legal proceedings in that country can be extradited, if allowed, only when the trial is over and the person has served the punishment there.

The British national is one of the three middlemen who have been accused of handling and routing more than €62 million for bribing Indian officials.

Immigration records have revealed that Michel was a frequent flyer to India and had undertaken as many as 300 trips between 1997 and 2013. In the first two months of 2013, he made three visits and had flown back to Dubai the last time in February that year, days before the CBI set up a preliminary probe into the bribery charges in the VVIP chopper deal.

ED investigations have found that Michel allegedly used his Dubai-based firm Global Services FZE. Some money was also sent to a media firm he had floated in Delhi, along with two Indians.

As alleged, the bribes were sent through a web of companies located abroad and in India on the pretext of work or consultancy contracts. The money trail has been detected in nine countries, including the UAE, the United Kingdom, British Virgin Islands, Mauritius, Singapore and Tunisia.

The agencies allege that the deal caused a loss of €398.21 million to the Indian exchequer. As part of the alleged conspiracy, then Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi had lowered the service ceiling requirement of the helicopter from 6,000 to 4,500 metres and also revised operational conditions, which made AgustaWestland eligible for the deal.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 12:32:56 AM |

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