Business Standard

Agusta middleman extradited to India, CBI takes custody

IANS  |  New Delhi 

British national Christian Michel James, the middleman wanted in Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal case, was extrdited to on Tuesday night from the (UAE). He was taken straight to the headquarters from the airport here.

The extradition comes as a boost to the Indian agencies investigating the bribery angle in the contract.

The (CBI) took James, 57, under its custody as soon as he arrived at the here around 11 p.m in a special aircraft, accompanied by a team of CBI, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and officials.

Once the immigration process was over at the airport, James went through a medical examination in the presence of customs and other officials.

Subsequently, he was escorted by a Police team to the headquarters in south Delhi's Lodhi Road area for interrogation over his alleged role in the purchase of 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers from

James would be confronted with documents recovered during raids by the Swiss authorities and shared with the through Letters Rogatory (LRs) -- documents used for making request through a foreign court to obtain information from specified person/s within the jurisdiction of that court -- indicating the bribes paid by James to the Indian authorities for securing the contract for the supply of VVIP helicopters.

James, who had been avoiding criminal proceedings in India, is likely to be presented at a special CBI court in on Wednesday afternoon.

The central probe agency in a press note said the entire extradition operation was conducted under the guidance of Ajit Doval, with the coordination of interim CBI

A team led by was in during the extradition process, the note said.

The action comes after the in the UAE in November upheld a lower court order which said that Michel could be extradited to

According to the report, James was kept under detention at the Police's Department (CID), as per the Indian government's request. The extradition was undertaken in coordination with the and the CID.

James is one of the three middlemen being probed by the CBI and the (ED) in connection with the alleged scam.

In January, the ED had lodged a request with the UAE authorities for extraditing James. Both ED and CBI had filed chargesheets in bribery cases in Indian courts and non-bailable warrants had been issued against the accused.

Last year, a Red Corner Notice (RCN) was issued against James by the on a request by the CBI. RCNs were also issued against two Italians -- and -- for their role in the case.

According to the Indian investigative agencies, James had received at least Rs 235 crore for ensuring that the chopper contract went to He was a frequent visitor to India, having undertaken 300 trips to this country between 1997 and 2013.

Earlier, the ED officials had said that bribes to James were paid through a web of companies located abroad and in on the pretext of payment for consultancy work. James also used his Dubai-based firm as a conduit for receiving money.

A CBI chargesheet in the case also named four Indians -- former (IAF) S.P. Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie, then Vice of the Air Staff J.S. Gujral and

The chargesheet mentioned Khaitan as the "brain" behind the deal.

Others named in the chargesheet included Giuseppe Orsi, the former of Italian defence and Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, former of AgustaWestland, apart from middlemen James, Haschke and Gerosa.

On January 1, 2014, India cancelled the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying the VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and on charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore.

The CBI, which registered an FIR in the case on March 12, 2013, had alleged that Tyagi and other accused received kickbacks from AgustaWestland to help it win the contract.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, December 05 2018. 01:50 IST