Christian Michel, the British middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper scandal, has gone missing, his lawyer has confirmed to the Indian News Broadcaster NDTV hours after a court in Dubai ordered his extradition to India.
Mr. Michel was arrested in the UAE last year and was out on bail. He is wanted in India for allegedly organising bribes in exchange for a contract for VVIP helicopters.
His lawyer Amal Alsubei said he could not be found since the court has ordered his extradiction.
“He will be arrested if found. He is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court,” said Mr Alsubei.
The AgustaWestland case involves the purchase of 12 luxury helicopters for use by top leaders including the President, Prime Minister and former prime ministers, when Manmohan Singh’s Congress-led coalition was in power.
In 2014, the government scrapped the contract amid allegations that AgustaWestland, whose parent company Finmeccanica ran into allegations of bribe-giving in Italy, had paid kickbacks in India.
Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the controversial AgustaWestland chopper deal, who was arrested in the UAE last year and facing extradition proceedings in that country.
Earlier in July this year, Mr. Michel’s lawyer said he was being pressured by Indian agencies to frame Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in return for exoneration from criminal proceedings.
A day after the British arms dealer was granted bail in Dubai, the AgustaWestland intermediary accused Indian investigators of offering him a deal that only if he named UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, he stood a good chance of securing a clean chit in the alleged Rs 3,600-crore scam.
In an exclusive telephone interview to India Today then, Michel had claimed that he could produce at least six witnesses and hotel security footage to prove his allegations that he was pressured to testify against Gandhi.
“In May, a delegation came from India to meet me. I agreed to meet them. There was one meeting at the Grand Hyatt hotel and two meetings at the Palace hotel in Dubai. They gave me a document, which was about 20 pages long, and asked me to sign it,” he claimed.
Michel alleged that he refused to oblige investigators after going through the papers.
“After reading two or three pages, I told them that I could not sign it because it wasn’t correct. It was talking about things that hadn’t happened,” Michel, who had been detained on June 12 in Dubai, alleged.
Asked to elaborate on his claims, he alleged that investigators wanted him to name the Gandhis and Congress MP Ahmed Patel in a notation on a document.
“In the last meaning, which took place at about 11 o’clock in the evening, we went through all the files and there was nothing. Then they pulled out a budget sheet, which wasn’t written by me, dictated by me,” he claimed.
“I was not even present when it was being written. All they wanted at the bottom was a notation of the family, which meant Mrs. Gandhi and her family and AP, which meant Ahmed Patel. They said ‘if you could give us this, everything would be irrelevant.”
Asked about the identity of officials who offered him the so-called deal, he claimed
“They (Indian officials) never gave their names. But if you are asking me if I have any witness to these meetings then I have at least six witnesses, there was a CID official, an Interpol official, one man of ministerial rank and there is the hotel security footage. So if anyone tries to deny it they are going to be in deep trouble.”