AgustaWestland: To be extradited, Michel was media fix it guy in India
New Delhi, Sep 19: India scored a major victory after a court in the United Arab Emirates ordered the extradition of alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal.
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.
For the Central Bureau of Investigation, this order is a shot in the arm. The CBI has been probing to find out who in India had received kickbacks to facilitate the deal.
Michel, according to CBI sources was allegedly paid a sum of Rs 330 crore by AgustaWestland to manage various aspects that also included managing the media in India.
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.
Through this company he managed to keep an eye on the media reports where this deal was concerned. If there was any negative press on the deal, Michel was meant to fix it, the CBI officials also say.