AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel extradited to India

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British national Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, has been extradited to Indi on Tuesdat night, the CBI said.

Michel was among the alleged middlemen who had brokered the deal and who, investigators claim, paid bribes to officials and politicians to swing the contract in favour of AgustaWestland, the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica.

A CBI team, lead by A. Sai Manohar, Joint Director in CBI, has been to Dubai for the purpose. The team was assisted by Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor (NSA).

Michel was among the alleged middlemen who had brokered the deal and who, investigators claim, paid bribes to officials and politicians to swing the contract in favour of AgustaWestland, the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica.

In 1999, the Indian Air Force floated a proposal for acquisition of 12 VVIP helicopters to ferry top government functionaries. In 2010, the deal was granted to AgustaWestland for over Rs 3,600 crore. This was, however, followed by allegations that technical specifications had been tweaked — including lowering of the service ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000 m to 4,500 m — to help AgustaWestland win the bid for which bribes were allegedly paid.

The CBI filed an FIR on March 14, 2013, after a preliminary inquiry. The FIR named former IAF chief S P Tyagi and 12 other individuals as accused, apart from four companies. These individuals included members of the Tyagi family and three middlemen: Michel, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke. The Enforcement Directorate too began investigations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

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