Christian Michel is among a number of people wanted by Indian authorities for allegedly bribing officials to push along a $500 million deal for AgustaWestland helicopters
A UAE court has reportedly ordered the extradition to India of a British executive who stands accused of bribing defence officials in exchange for a $500 million helicopter deal for 12 luxury choppers to be used for VVIP transportation, according to media reports.
The British national, 54-year old Christian James Michael, was detained in the UAE in June but released on bail, India’s Scroll news outlet reported.
According to Gulf News, on September 2, judge Eisa Al Sharif of the Dubai Appeal Court approved the extradition request after determining it is permissible under the terms of a criminal extradition accord signed between the UAE and India.
The court’s decision, however, remains subject to appeal before Dubai’s cessation court.
The newspaper noted that in a July hearing before the Dubai Public Prosecution, Michel denied the charges of commercial fraud, bribery and money laundering.
Michel was reportedly out on bail when the extradition decision was approved and it remains unclear whether he is in custody.
India’s IANS news agency, however, reported that Indian authorities have not received any communication from the UAE regarding Michel’s possible extradition.
“The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has not received any communication regarding Michel’s extradition from the Ministry of External Affairs (which handles extradition proceedings),” CBI spokesman Abhishek Dayal is quoted as saying.
The deal dates back to an agreement made by India’s former congress-led United Progressive Alliance government with British-Italian firm AgustaWestland in 2007.
The agreement was called into question in 2012, when Italian authorities arrested Giuseppe Orsi, the CEO of AgustaWestland parent company Finmeccanica, on charges that he paid bribes to Indian officials. The deal was officially scrapped in 2014.
Michel is one of three middlemen accused by Indian authorities of brokering the deal. His extradition has yet to be publicly confirmed by UAE authorities.
In September 2017, India filed a case against former Air Force chief of staff SP Tyagi and 13 other people – including Michel – in relation with the case.