The Dubai Cassation Court has granted an approval to India’s request of extraditing Christian Michel, a British businessman, accused of money laundering, bribery, and fraud in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore worth AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam. Several Indian Politicians are alleged to have received bribes in this deal.
In a major boost to the Modi government, The highest court in Dubai upheld the appellate court’s decision to extradite Michel, despite pleading not guilty. Judge Abdelaziz Al Zarouni, declared the decision in the presence of member judges Musabeh Thaaloub, Mostafa Al Shinawi, Mahmoud Sultan and another judge.
Defending his client Michel, Emirati lawyer Abdul Moneim Bin Suwaidan, submitted documents showing that the courts in Switzerland and Italy had turned down extradition of his client. He claimed that the courts there have concluded that there was no criminal element in the case.
Michel’s lawyer also contended that the Indian authorities didn’t comply with the India-UAE treaty and termed the procedure followed as “flawed”. The extradition request for the 54-year old Michel came from India’s Ministry of External Affairs and not from the Indian Home Ministry. “As per the Criminal Extradition Accord signed between the UAE and India, the Indian Home Ministry is the authority that should have lodged the request,” the lawyer reasoned as his client was challenging the extradition decision.
In a desperate attempt to save his client, lawyer Bin Suwaidan contested that the motives to get his client extradited are purely political. He also urged the judiciary to reject the extradition request as the incident concerning it happened in 2009 and should be rejected due to time lapse.
Michel suddenly ‘disappeared’ on September 2, following a decision issued by the Dubai Court of Appeals, according to which he could be extradited to India. Michel refuted the charges all along and was then granted bail while his passport was impounded by the authorities.
The Indian authorities submitted an extradition request of Michel to Dubai public prosecution in February 2017 over charges of money laundering, commercial fraud and bribery. The Indian authorities have accused Michel to be an alleged middleman in VVIP chopper deal who routed bribes allegedly paid by Anglo-Italian company Agusta-Westland to Indian politicians and officials.
Though the Dubai’s Highest Court has granted approval for Michel’s extradition, it will need approval from the UAE Minister of Justice for the extradition procedure to start.