The Enforcement Directorate filed a fresh chargesheet over corruption allegations related to the AgustaWestland chopper deal, naming British middleman Christian Michel.
India had earlier approached Britain for extraditing the middleman. Minister of state for external affairs VK Singh told the Rajya Sabha that India’s request for Michel’s extradition was under consideration of the “concerned British authorities”.
Michel, 54, allegedly played a key role in swinging the Rs 3,727-crore deal for AgustaWestland to supply 12 VVIP choppers in 2010. The deal was scrapped by the previous UPA government in 2014.
AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian defence giant Finmeccanica, allegedly paid more than Rs 375 crore as bribe to secure the deal. The British wheeler-dealer came under the scanner after an Italian court convicted two former officials of the defence giant for corruption.
This is the second chargesheet filed in the case by the ED which goes into the detailed role of Michel in the deal, his multiple visits to India and his transactions. The first chargesheet was filed by the agency in the case in November, 2014.
It is understood that filing a chargesheet against Michel was necessary as the ED has sought his extradition from the UK and hence such a court complaint against an accused is necessary in order to execute the treaty between the two countries.
A non-bailable arrest warrant was issued by a special CBI court against Michel in September while the global police, Interpol, issued a red corner notice against him in November on the agency’s plea. The CBI had also sent a request to the British government in January for his “provisional arrest”.
In 2013, CBI registered a case over alleged bribes paid by a British firm to Indians to clinch the deal while the ED initiated a money-laundering probe in 2014.
Michel is among three European middlemen accused of tweaking key technical specifications by then government authorities to favour AgustaWestland.
The names of five Congress leaders, including party chief Sonia Gandhi, figured in the recent judgment by the court, triggering a political row in the country.
With inputs from PTI