The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is set to approach Interpol for the detention or arrest of middleman Christian Michel, an accused in the AgustaWestland choppers deal, from the UAE for his subsequent handover to India to face probe in the case, sources said.
An Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) is pending against Michel, who is one of the three key alleged middlemen of UK-based AgustaWestland and bribed influential Indians to swing the 2010 deal, since last December. He is suspected to be based in the United Arab Emirates.
The notice was issued against Michel on the basis of prior non-bailable warrants issued by a Delhi court on the requests of ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which are both probing irregularities in the deal.
A Red Corner Notice warrants a person’s immediate detention or arrest by authorities across the globe and handover to the country in whose criminal investigation they might be wanted, according to an ED source.
“Instead of joining ED’s money-laundering probe in the case since July 2014, Michel has been talking about the 2010 deal-related details with news channels while sitting in the UAE. He should be in India to join the probe and tell us what he needs to reveal,” an ED source told HT.
The agency will ask Interpol to check with UAE authorities if they followed due process after the interviews were aired seemingly at a time they were conducted there, said the source.
He allegedly runs a Dubai-based firm, Global Services, FZE, that figures prominently in the alleged money trail of the bribes - worth Rs 360 crore - paid by Agusta to swing the deal in its favour.
“It could be that Michel has been in the UAE from the time the RCN was issued against him last year since otherwise, any movement at an airport would have certainly alerted authorities about his presence there,” he said.
Michel, who is based either in Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the UAE, was interviewed by two Indian news channels on Wednesday and Thursday about his role in the deal and other aspects connected to the case.
In an interview with a news channel on Wednesday, Michel had offered to get “interviewed” from the Indian consulate in Dubai since he feared “getting arrested” on his arrival in India.
On Thursday, the CBI rejected Michel’s offer to depose via video-conferencing from Dubai. The investigating agency said Michel will have to come to India for questioning.
“The CBI will take its probe in the VVIP choppers’ deal case to its logical conclusion. Christian Michel should join the probe in India,” a CBI spokesperson said.