AgustaWestland: MEA clarifies no communication from UAE over extradition of British middleman Christian Michel

New Delhi: Amidst report over Dubai Court extradited British middleman Christian Michel in AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case, the Indian authorities on Thursday clarified that it has not any communication from the UAE government so far.

The External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar has said that it has not received any official communication from the UAE government about the case related to Agusta Westland chopper deal middleman Christian Michel in a Dubai court.

In a press briefing, MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that unless the Ministry receives an official intimation from the UAE government in the matter, he will not be in a position to react on the matter. He said, “We have not received any intimation from the UAE government about the case.” “However, the External Affairs Ministry had asked its embassy in the UAE to find out all the details relating to the issue,” he added.

The statement from MEA comes days after reports emerged that Dubai court ordered the extradition of British middleman Christian Michel in the 3,600 crore rupees AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case. Meanwhile, the CBI had said it was awaiting confirmation from the MEA on reports about extradition of Michel from the UAE.

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 want Michel to join the probe to take the case forward.

In its charge sheet, the ED also said that the three middlemen managed to make inroads into the Indian Air Force (IAF) to influence the stand of the officials into reducing the service ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 meters to 4,500 meters in 2005. AgustaWestland became eligible to supply a dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties after this change.

A Red Corner Notice (RCN) had already been issued against Michel, who is a middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal on the request of Indian authorities.

On July 18 this year, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a supplementary charge sheet against former Air Force Chief S P Tyagi, his two cousins, lawyer Gautam Khaitan, two Italian middlemen and Finmeccanica in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case. The charge sheet was filed before special judge Arvind Kumar in a Delhi court.

BACKGROUND:

In the year 2013, a parliamentary panel investigation found that several politicians and bureaucrats had allegedly accepted bribes to swing the deal for 12 AgustaWestland helicopters. The initial cost of 12 VVIP choppers were approximately Rs 2,666 crore but were signed in a deal that was worth Rs 3,726 crore in the year of 2010. The government had to bear a loss of more than Rs 1,000 crore due to corruption.

On 1 January 2014, India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over an alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks of RS 423 crore paid by it to secure the deal. Both CBI and ED are probing in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case.

Finmeccanica is the parent company of AgustaWestland.

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