British national Christian Michel, wanted by Indian investigative agencies in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case, is likely to be extradited to India on Tuesday night. Michel was among the alleged middlemen who brokered the deal with the Indian Air Force 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.
The AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case
The Congress-led UPA government had in February 2010 signed a contract with UK-based helicopter manufacturing company AgustaWestland to purchase 12 AW101 helicopters for the Indian Air Force for Rs 3,600 crore. These helicopters were supposed to be used for ferrying the President of India, the Prime Minister, and other such VVIPs.
It was, however, alleged that technical specifications of the required choppers were tweaked — including lowering of the service ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000 m to 4,500 m —to help AgustaWestland qualify and win the bid. AgustaWestland’s parent company Finmeccanica allegedly paid kickbacks to win the VVIP chopper deal with the Indian Air Force.
On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.
The CBI has alleged there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (approximately Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010, for the supply of VVIP choppers worth Euro 556.262 million.
Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the ED and the CBI. Both the agencies have notified an Interpol red corner notice (RCN) against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him.