Christian Michel’s extradition to India to have political implications too!
New Delhi, Dec 5: The government has been trying from long to bring such outlaws to try them as per Indian law who were beyond the reach of India legal system. British businessman Christian James Michel was wanted in Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case. On the request of the Indian government and following a court orders, he has been extradited from United Arab Emirates (UAE) to India. But besides every other thing, this development will have its political implications as well as India is very soon going for national general elections.
Michel was detained in UAE at the request of the Indian government as he was wanted for allegedly receiving bribes in exchange for a 2007 contract for the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters. These special helicopters were for the use of the President, Prime Minister, former prime ministers and many other top leaders of the country. Two more middlemen being probed in the case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) included Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke.
The first chargesheet in the AgustaWestland scam filed in September last year by the CBI alleged that Michel through his companies - Global Services FZE (Dubai) and Global Trade and Commerce Services (London) - managed to get Euro 42.27 million for service and consultancy contracts in the year 2010-11. Moreover, when the deal was being signed, Michel visited India 25 times and stayed in Hotel Ashoka and Claridges in Delhi and Windsor in Bengaluru.
The CBI accused that the British businessman had received at least Rs 235 crore for the chopper contract. He sent a report from Mumbai to Giuseppe Orsi and other officers of AgustaWestland mentioning that Augusta had succeeded in flight trials distancing itself from the competition on April 10, 2008. But, he warned that if commercial bids of Sikorsky (the competitor) were opened, then Agusta would be in trouble since Sikorsky would submit bids in Dollars. "He reported that he was consciously and deliberately trying to disqualify the competition at that stage only so that the financial bids of Sikorsky are not opened," says the CBI chargesheet.
CBI investigation exposed that Sikorsky was disqualified during trials and its unopened commercial bid submitted to the ministry of defence in February 2007 was returned. As per the charge sheet, it was found that Sikorsky had quoted bid at Rs 2,228 crore for supply of 12 choppers whereas Agusta quoted Rs 3,966 crore. Michel procured confidential documents and secret information from the defence ministry and the Indian Air Force that he had sent to Agusta executives through one of his associates in Mumbai.
The documents sent by him included evaluation report of S-92 chopper and the contents of a technical committee report of the IAF prepared in February 2007. He also had information about movement of files of the deal in the ministry of defence and details of cabinet committee on security deliberations.
The CBI had filed a chargesheet against former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi and eight others - Tyagi's cousin Sanjeev alias Julie, Infotech legal adviser Gautam Khaitan, former Air Force vice-chief JS Gujral, former AgustaWestland chief executive officer Bruno Spagnolini, former Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi and alleged middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Guido Haschke and Christian Michel - in the case in September last year. Three companies - Finmeccanica, its UK-based subsidiary AgustaWestland, and Mohali-based IDS Infotech - were also charged. On January 1, 2014, India canceled the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for the VVIP choppers.