Agusta deal 'middleman' Michel missing, claims lawyer

The investigators have claimed that Michel, one of the three suspected middlemen, received ‎Euro 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland. (PTI File Photo)

Hours after a Dubai court ordered his extradition to India, British national and suspected middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal case Christian Michel seems to have gone missing.

Michel, who was arrested in the UAE last year and was out on bail, is wanted in India in connection with the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case.

Michel's lawyer Amal Alsubei was quoted by NDTV as saying that the suspect could not be found since the court issued the extradition order. "He will be arrested if found. He is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court," Alsubei told NDTV.

India had officially sought his extradition in the case which is now being investigated by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The CBI FIR had said there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (around Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal signed by the UPA government in February 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth Euro 556.262 million. The CBI had earlier arrested former chief of the Indian Air Force SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan.

The agencies have managed to get a Red Corner Notice issued against him by the Interpol.

The investigators have claimed that Michel, one of the three suspected middlemen, received ‎Euro 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.

According to a charge sheet filed by the ED, this was nothing but "kickbacks" paid to Indian politicians and bureaucrats for firming up the 12 VVIP purchases and these transactions were disguised as genuine.

The ED found that remittances made by Michel to the Delhi firm were made from the funds which he got from AgustaWestland through "criminal activity".

It had also claimed that AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini was paying "kickbacks" to Michel and two other middlemen in the guise of numerous "consultancy contracts". The charge sheet said a Delhi firm set up by Michel was a "shell company" to "launder the proceeds of crime."

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