Dubai’s Ministry of Justice has completed the extradition formalities of Christian Michel, accused of being a middleman in the Agusta Westland Scam, Economic Times has reported.
With Dubai’s highest court refusing to turn down his appeal against the extradition, the report claimed that Michel could be brought to India this week.
Who is Christian Michel?
Michel is little known to the public. There seems to be no evidence of his business details on the internet. In spite of low coverage in media, Michel is very well connected in Defence establishments in New Delhi according the reproduction of an Italian newspaper report titled “Christian Michel, the English middleman of Finmeccanica”.
Finmeccanica is the manufacturer of Agusta Westland choppers.
As per the newspaper report dated 20 November 2012, the “mysterious” British citizen Michel has been described as “Man of Orsi”. The newspaper had alleged that he had received around Rs 210 crore ( 60 per cent of the total) of the kickbacks amount of Rs 360 crores (51 million Euros) from Finmeccanica.
After his arrest in February 2017 by UAE authorities, he had claimed that the CBI pressured him to sign on a confession statement. The statement included a confirmation of a meeting with former Congress president Sonia Gandhi when the deal was being negotiated in 2010.
Michel also alleged that he was promised a clean-chit in the case if he signs the confession by Central Bureau of Investigation. Through his lawyer, Michel also claimed that he refused to sign the confession.
Michel who was a frequent visitor to Delhi for the past two decades has stopped coming to India after August 2012. He is currently operating from Dubai.
How is he linked to the Congress?
According to a report in The Pioneer in 2013, which cites Italian newspaper ‘Lettera 43’, Michel’s late father was “close to the Congress party”. Michel’s links in the Indian defence circles are inherited from his father Wolfgang Max Michel Richard. Wolfgang Max Michel Richard is a British businessman who was very active in India between the 80s and 90s.
Guido Ralph Haschke, the second middleman in the deal, was the Director of a real estate firm (Emaar MGF) owned by relatives of Kanishka Singh, who is associated with a Congress high-up. A chargesheet related to this case, filed in an Italian court, talks about a “family” getting around Rs 150 crore as a kickback from the helicopter manufacturer. Haschke stopped visiting India after 2011 when his name cropped up in the Italian probe.
Status Of Michel’s Extradition To India
In his plea to the Dubai court, Christian Michel argued that he might be exposed to inhuman treatment and forced to accept the role of political personalities. These arguments were rejected by the court as the request for extradition by India is not political, religious or racial in nature.
Michel’s documents which claimed that he was not involved in the Agusta Westland deal did not help his case. His claims were punctured by documents allegedly authored by him containing ‘vital updates’ on the deal.
India’s efforts to extradite Michel had been stepped up in August. After the Dubai government issues an order of extradition, he will be brought to Delhi and be produced before the Patiala House court in the city. Investigative authorities can seek his custody from the court.
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