The wanted fugitive and middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, Christian Michel, was brought to India late on Tuesday night following his extradition by the UAE. The CBI has taken custody of the fugitive criminal after his extradition and has credited National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval for the success of the operation, reported ANI.
According to the CBI spokesperson, Abhishek Dayal, an operation named ‘Unicorn’ was planned and carried out under the guidance of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and being coordinated by interim CBI Director M Nageswar Rao to bring back middleman Christian Michel after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj discussed the extradition with her counterpart in the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Dubai last night.
“A team led by A. Sai Manohar, Joint Director in CBI has been to Dubai for the purpose”, the CBI said. “Under the guidance of Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor (NSA), the entire operation is being coordinated by in-charge Director CBI M Nageswara Rao,” the agency spokesperson said.
The 57-year old Christian Michel was behind bars in Dubai since his arrest and was sent to custody pending the legal and judicial procedure in the UAE. Last month, the highest Court in Dubai, upholding the appellate court’s decision to extradite Michel had granted approval to India’s request for his extradition.
In 2010, India had signed an agreement to buy 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for the service of the Prime Minister, the President and other VVIPs. It is alleged that some politicians and public servants had abused their official positions to reduce the service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6000 metres to 4500 metres to make AgustaWestland eligible for the contract and had awarded the contract for an amount of Euro 556.262 million in 2010.
In 2013, Italian officials arrested Giuseppe Orsi, the CEO of AgustaWestland’s parent company, alleging irregularities in the deal. Soon after, the then Defence Minister AK Antony had ordered a probe and had scrapped the deal in 2014.
Christian Michel is accused of money laundering, bribery, and fraud in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore worth AgustaWestland scam. It is believed that not only did he pay kickbacks to politicians, officers and agents but also involved certain celebrity journalists to swing the deal.