AgustaWestland chopper scam: Christian Michel being taken to CBI HQ

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Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, was Wednesday produced before a Delhi court which allowed his five-day custodial interrogation by the CBI.

He will be produced before Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar today. The team included the CBI and those from the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).

"We need to confront him with the evidence". The Congress leader's son doing business in Dubai arranged TV interviews of Michel to Indian media in 2016 to accuse Modi Government of political vendetta. Michel was extradited to India from Dubai late Tuesday night.

Christian Michel is being brought to India from the UAE, CBI officials said.

Dubai Government's Ministry of Justice's final order came on Tuesday after Michel lost his appeal in the apex court of Dubai against the deportation.

Michel was wanted for investigation but he escaped and had avoided joining the probe, he said. In September 2017, the CBI filed a formal charge sheet against S.P. Tyagi and nine others. Both the agencies have notified an Interpol red corner notice (RCN) against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

"Under the guidance of Ajit Doval, the National Security Advisor (NSA), the entire operation is being coordinated by the in-charge Director of CBI, M Nageswara Rao", he said.

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In its chargesheet, the ED had said the three middlemen "managed to" influence the Indian Air Force (IAF) officials to reduce the service ceiling of these 12 helicopters from 6,000 metre to 4,500 metre in 2005, which made AgustaWestland eligible for the deal.

India cancelled the Rs 3,600 crore deal with AgustaWestland in January 2014.

Michel worked with the company since the 1980s and before that his father had also been a consultant of the company for the Indian territory, the statement said.

Christian Michel James was a frequent visitor to India and was operating as a middleman for defence procurements through a wide network of sources cultivated in the IAF and MoD at different levels including retired and serving IAF Officials. He flew back to Dubai the last time days before the CBI registered an FIR to probe the alleged scam.

According to Indian investigative agencies, James had received at least Rs 235 crore for ensuring that the chopper contract went to AgustaWestland.

Investigations revealed that he allegedly acted as a middleman to sway the deal in favour of AgustaWestland and paid kickbacks to the Indians involved.

The money, ED alleged, was "kickbacks" paid by the firm to execute the 12-helicopter deal in favour of the firm in "guise of" of genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country, it had said.

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