James Christian Michel who was appointed to manage the Indian media in connection with the AgustaWestland deal had visited India 300 time between 1997 and 2013. However after 2013, he went off the radar and various attempts by the Enforcement Directorate to reach out to him have been in vain.
The Enforcement Directorate is on his trail since he is the alleged middleman in the case. He was specifically tasked with managing the media in India and a sum of Rs 330 crore had allegedly been paid to him.
300 visits on a pilgrimage:
Michel against whom a non bailable warrant and Interpol Red Corner alert has been issued had visited India 300 times between 1997 and 2013. The information was obtained by the Enforcement Directorate from the immigration. During most of his visits, he has cited pilgrimage as the reason for his visit.
The ED has attempted to get in touch with him several times, but he always managed to dodge the agency. He tried putting forth his view through interviews in the media. It was all done with an intention of misguiding the investigations, the ED officer says. We had given him ample opportunities to present his case, but he never made himself available. He completely went off the radar post 2013, ED officials say. An extradition request from the UK has now been made by the Indian government.
The ED says Michel has not come forward to put forth his case. He had every opportunity. In fact when his assets comprising a bungalow in Delhi, fixed deposit and a luxury car was attached, he did not contest it either.
The ED and the CBI says that he is currently in the UK and the details of his residence has been shared by the authorities. However we are also trying to get his UAE address. The authorities are yet to inform us on this, the officer also pointed out.