AgustaWestland: Middleman Michel missing as MEA awaits official order on extradition
New Delhi, Sep 19: Hours after a court ordered his extradition, accused in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, James Christian Michel has gone missing. According to his lawyer, Amal Alsubei, he could not be found since the order of extradition was delivered.
Meanwhile India said that it is yet to get any formal communication regarding the extradition. No formal communication has come from the UAE as yet, the MEA source said. Media reports said that a Dubai court had ordered the extradition of Michel.
The rules state that a final call on extradition is always taken by the foreign office of a particular country. In case of the UAE, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs decides the fate of an accused against whom the court has given an extradition order, the MEA official also said.
Michel has the right to appeal and it is a matter of the UAE, the MEA official said, while also adding that they are awaiting a formal communication in this regard.
Michel, a British national is wanted in India for allegedly organising bribes in exchange for a 2007 contract for the purchase of 12 helicopters for use by top leaders. He had been detained in the UAE in July and granted bail a month later.
Michel's primary job was to give feedback on the media activities relating to the AgustaWestland deal. CBI sources say that his meeting with several media persons has been under the scanner.
Michel was a middleman hired by AgustaWestland. His main job was to keep an eye on the media in India and report the narrative regarding the deal to AgustaWestland.
He is an important player in this case, the CBI says. We have some evidence on him which includes the reports he sent out and also the meetings he held with some people in the media, officials also add.
An amount of Rs 330 crore was paid to him for managing various services. He received these amounts in part payments at United Kingdom, the British Virgin Islands and also Tunisia.
In addition to his links with the media, the CBI has also found that he had several assets (benami) in India. A bungalow in Delhi and a luxury car is what the CBI has found and officials say that he had purchased this in a benami name.
While his meetings with several persons are under the scanner, the CBI has learnt that it was through his company Global Services FZE all his activities were managed.