UK seeks information on Christian Michel’s extradition, demands consular access

Christian Michel, a British citizen, is accused of money laundering, bribery and fraud on behalf of AgustaWestland, the British subsidiary of Italy's Finmeccanica.

Uk’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office(FCO) has sought urgent information from India regarding detention and extradition Christian Michel, who is reportedly a British citizen. They have also asked for consular access to Micheal, who is currently in CBI’s five-day custody.

Fugitive and middleman Christian Michel was successfully extradited to India and sent into custody to investigate the UPA-era scam in AgustaWestland chopper deal. Christian Michel is accused of money laundering, bribery, and fraud in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore scam. He is believed to have paid kickbacks to politicians and officers, in lieu of easy norms for AugustaWestland’s parent company to seal the VVIP AW101 Helicopter deal.

CBI prosecutor DP Singh reportedly demanded Micheal’s custody so that money trails in the Chopper deal, can be traced and investigated. In the special CBI court, Christian Michel was represented by advocate Aljo K Joseph, who was a Congress party leader, and the national in-charge of the legal department of Indian Youth Congress. Yesterday, he was expelled from the party after suspicion rose about the involvement of senior Congress leaders in the VVIP helicopter scam.

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Court sent Michel into 5-day custody on Wednesday.

Michel is one of the middlemen wanted in the case, other two, namely Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa are still out of reach for Indian investigative agencies. According to CBI,  Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi was in contact with Italian middleman. Tyagi and his cousin are accused of receiving bribes for modifying the specifications of choppers to benefit the seller. CBI asserted in their charge sheet that Tyagi even reduced the minimum ceiling height for required choppers from 18,000 feet to 15,000 feet so as to benefit Agusta.

“Our staff continue to support the family of a British man following his detention in the UAE,” said FCO spokesperson. It was also added that UK authorities are in contact with Michel’s family members and authorities of UAE, from where extradition took place. It is notable here that Augusta Westland is the British subsidiary of the Italian firm Finmeccanica.

On 10 December, UK’s London Westminster Magistrates’ Court will also hear India’s extradition plea for Fugitive Businessman Vijay Mallya.

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