Days after PM Narendra Modi pushed for extradition of VVIP chopper scam accused Christian Michel James during his meeting with visiting UK PM Theresa May, the CBI has decided to send an extradition request against the defence middleman to UAE.
Michel, a UK citizen, is known to be flitting between UK and UAE often and has recently given several interviews to the media from his office in Abu Dhabi. A similar request by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is investigating a case of money laundering in connection with the deal, has already been sent to UAE. Extradition requests for Michel by both agencies have also been sent to the UK.
“With his location also being seen in the UAE, we have decided to send an extradition request to that country through the Ministry of External Affairs,” a CBI official said. According to the CBI and ED, Michel is among the key accused in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case. The probe by the two agencies has revealed that Michel’s companies received around Euro 42 million to facilitate the deal, of which a large part was allegedly distributed as bribes.
The ED’s first extradition request to the UK had been sent back, seeking further clarification from the agency about the allegations against Michel and his exact location.
After receiving these questions in May this year, the ED further probed the case and filed a prosecution complaint in a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court last month.
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The filing of the chargesheet was to strengthen India’s case in demanding extradition of Michel from both UK and UAE.
The ED believes that the legitimate part of the offset money earmarked for another alleged middleman, Guido Haschke, by AgustaWestland went to IDS India, which was not part of the middlemen maze. The bribe was allegedly sent to IDS Tunisia, which sent it to IDS Mauritius. It was IDS Mauritius that allegedly paid bribes to cousins of former Air Force chief S P Tyagi. The ED is now hoping it would get a chance to interrogate Michel to pinpoint who he paid bribes to.