The British High Commission in India has got the consular access to Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case. Michel is currently lodged in the judicial custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with AgustaWestland scam. Michel, a British national, was arrested in the UAE and extradited to India on December 4, 2018. Following his extradition, the UK government had sought the urgent information from India on the circumstances surrounding his detention and extradition.
“Our staff continue to support the family of a British man following his detention in the UAE. We are in contact with his family and the Emirati authorities regarding his case and are urgently seeking information from the Indian authorities on his circumstances,” a spokesperson for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had said.
The extradition order by the Dubai government was long awaited after Dubai's top court had on November 19, upheld a lower court's order to consider the possibility of Michel's extradition to India. The UAE Court in September rejected Michel's appeal, opposing the extradition plea by the Indian authorities. His counsel argued that India may expose Michel to "inhuman treatment" and the case against the accused was "political" in nature.
The 57-year old businessman had an anxiety attack upon reaching the CBI headquarters post extradition to India and doctors were called to attend to him. After giving him treatment, he was put to an intense grilling about money trail and identification of documents in the AgustaWestland VVIP choppers scam case.
Besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, Michel is among the three middlemen being probed by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly bribing politicians and top Airforce officials to help AgustaWestland get the VVIP choppers contract.
The ED had filed a chargesheet against Michel in 2016, alleging that he received EUR 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland. The CBI has alleged there was an estimated loss of approximately Rs 2,666 crore to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010, for the supply of VVIP choppers to ferry the President, the prime minister.