Christian James Michel, VVIP chopper deal accused, extradited to India

New Delhi:

Christian James Michel, British middleman wanted by Indian investigative agencies in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, has been extradited to New Delhi last night from Dubai.

According to CBI the entire operation was conducted under the guidance of Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor (NSA), by Incharge Director/CBI M. Nageswara Rao. A team lead by A. Sai Manohar, Joint Director/CBI has been to Dubai for the purpose.

According to CBI, Wolfgang Max Richard Michel father of Christian Michel James was also a consultant of M/s AgustaWestland, UK for the Indian Territory in 1980s and had reportedly acted as a mediator in other countries too. Wolfgang Michel promoted three companies Entera Corporation, UCM International Trading Limited and Ferro-Imports Limited. Between 1987 and 1996, Entera Corporation reportedly earned more than £2 million from India.

CBI said, Valerie Fooks mother of Christian Michel James is running a trust in the name of Queda Educational Foundation which is reportedly providing financial assistance to beneficiary students from India to advance their education in foreign countries.

Sasha Ozeman sister of Christian Michel James had been in the news for standing by Christian Michel James and made public statements pertaining to the involvement of Christian Michel James in the VVIP Chopper deal case, CBI added.

Profile of Mr. Christian Michel James released by CBI:

Mr. Christian Michel James is described as a historical consultant of M/s AgustaWestland/Westland Helicopters, UK with technical operational knowledge of the aircraft, the military bases and the pilots. Mr. Christian Michel James worked with M/s Westland Helicopters Limited (WHL), UK since the 1980s. Even before Mr. Christian Michel James, his father had also been a consultant of M/s AgustaWestland, UK for the Indian Territory.

Mr Christian Michel James was a frequent visitor to India and was operating as a middleman for defence procurements through a wide network of sources cultivated in the IAF and MoD at different levels including retired and serving IAF Officials. He was tracking the movements of the procurement process filesand was sending periodical reports/despatches on the developments to the accused persons connected with M/s AgustaWestland. In this process, he shared the information collected from IAF and MoD with his associate(s), who used to transmit the despatches through FAX to the other counterparts sitting abroad in Italy and Switzerland. In the aforesaid manner, he was updating/informing the management of M/s Finmeccanica and M/s AgustaWestland namely Mr. Giuseppe Orsi and Mr. Bruno Spagnolini and others about his efforts in India for securing supply contract of VVIP Helicopters.

Involvement of Mr Christian Michel James in the purchase of VVIP helicopter by Government of India had surfaced in the year 2012 as middlemen for swinging the deal in favour of M/s AgustaWestland and making illegal payment of commission/kickbacks to the Indian Authorities. Initially, the investigation conducted by Italian Authorities indicted him for offences of international bribery/corruption. CBI took up the investigation and wanted him for investigation. However, he escaped from India and has been deliberately evading his presence from the investigating agency and also the due process of law in India. Hence, an open non-bailable arrest warrant dated 24.09.2015 was issued by the Special Judge, CBI Cases, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi.

INTERPOL Red Notice: 

“On the basis of open non-bailable arrest warrant, the National Central Bureau of India (CBI), INTERPOL got published a Red Notice vide Control No. A-9846/11-2015 against Mr. Christian Michel James on 25.11.2015 by INTERPOL Headquarter, Lyon, France, CBI said.

Extradition from UAE:

According to CBI, “The fugitive criminal, Mr. Christian Michel James was arrested by UAE authorities in February 2017 on the strength of above INTERPOL Red Notice.CBI filed Charge sheet in the court on 01.09.2017 against the fugitive criminal Mr. Christian Michel James and 11 other accused persons. The trial court took cognizance of the offences on 11.10.2017. CBI’s request for extradition was forwarded to the UAE authorities on 19.03.2017 through diplomatic channels.Extradition Proceedings were held before UAE Courtagainst Mr. Christian Michel James on the extradition request of CBI. Vide order dated 19.11.2018, the Court of Dubai upheld the lower court decision for possibility of extraditing Mr. Christian Michel James to Indian Authorities. Accordingly, the fugitive criminal Mr. Christian Michel James is extradited to face the legal proceedings.”

Role of Christian Michel James in AgustaWestland case as described by CBI

Mr. Christian Michel James entered into criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons and in pursuance thereof, the public servants had abused their official positions by reduction of service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6000 metres to 4500 metres and a contract for an amount of Euro 556.262 million was awarded to M/s AgustaWestland International Ltd (AWIL), UK by the Government of India through Ministry of Defence on 08.02.2010 for the procurement of 12 VVIP/non VVIP helicopters

Keeping his proven expertise and experience in India,Mr. Christian Michel James was imposed as a controller on the other two middlemen namely Mr. Ralph Guido Haschke and Mr.Carlo Gerosa (already roped in by M/s AgustaWestland) as they had no specific knowledge in the specific sector of helicopters. Mr. Renzo Lunardi, the then Commercial Manager, M/s AgustaWestland proposed his appointment to which Mr. Giuseppe Orsi, CEO M/s AgustaWestland (during 2005-2011) agreed.

A meeting was held in Cascina Costa, Italy during July, 2006 and Mr. Lunardi in the presence of Mr. Orsi proposed that Mr. Christian Michel James will join Ralph Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa in carrying out scouting and monitoring activities with regard to the acquisition of helicopters in India, keeping in view of his knowledge of Indian military operational mechanism. During the above meeting they had negotiated a comprehensive fees equal to 7% of the supply contract amount to cover the expenses and fees of both of them.

Mr. Christian Michel James entered into as many as 12 contracts through two of his from firms namely M/s Global Trade & Commerce Ltd. London and M/s Global Services FZE, Dubai, UAE with Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Westland Helicopters UK etc. to legitimise the illicit commission on the Procurement of VVIP Helicopters by Ministry of Defence, India. An amount of Euro 42.27million (Rs. 295.00 Crore approx.) was paid by the Finmeccanica Group to the firms of Mr. Christian Michel James as kickbacks/bribe without undertaking any work against the receipt of such amount.

CBI said that Christian Michel James will be examined with respect to his involvement in the case and confronted with documents recovered during raids by Swiss Authorities and received by CBI through LRs indicating the bribes paid by Mr. Christian Michel James to the Indian Authorities for securing the contract for supply of VVIP Helicopters from M/s AgustaWestland.

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