Christian Michel James, is a British businessman, who was active in the Indian defence sector when the VVIP chopper scam was exposed. He was allegedly hired by the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland to influence people including politicians, officials and journalists.He is one of the three middlemen accused of bribing several people to secure the deal for AgustaWestland helicopters. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said yesterday that Michel’s extradition could spell serious trouble for the Congress’s “first family”, claiming that Michel was known to be a Gandhi-family loyalist.
In 2014, India scrapped the contract with Italian company Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 choppers to the Indian Air Force over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal after revelations made during a judicial trial against the company in Italy. CBI and ED had started investigations in India. Former IAF chief SP Tyagi was accused of taking bribe and was arrested.
In July, Michel’s lawyer alleged that he was being pressured by Indian agencies to frame Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in return for amnesty from criminal proceedings.In August 26, UAE had asked a court on the possibility of extraditing a British national to a third country. The court said a few days later that extradition is possible.In November, a court confirmed the order, clearing the way for Michel’s extradition to India. On Monday, the Dubai government passed an administrative order to enable Michel’s extradition. He was extradited in coordination with the Interpol and the Dubai CID.
He landed in New Delhi late Tuesday night and was taken to the CBI headquarters, where was questioned through the night. He will be produced in a court this morning. India is investigating charges that the British national organized bribes to push a 3,600-crore contract for VVIP helicopters to be purchased for top Indian leaders. His extradition came through on a day Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj held discussions with her UAE counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi.