In a massive breakthrough in the AgustaWestland chopper scam case, Sources have informed Republic Tv that India's request to extradite middleman Christian Michel is in the final stage. With Dubai government clearing the decks for his extradition, Michel is likely to be brought to India within the next few days. A formal administrative order by the Dubai government is long awaited after the Dubai’s highest Court had rejected Michel’s plea against extradition.
Earlier, a court in Dubai had approved Michel's extradition as part of the probe into irregularities in purchase of helicopters for use by VVIPs in India. The cassation court has upheld the decision.
Michel is in custody, Anjana Bhatia, a Dubai-based criminal lawyer had told Republic TV confirming the development. Republic TV had accessed the court order, which reads as follows:
The initial order in regards to Christian Michel's extradition came in September. During that hearing, Michel's representation had argued that there was no case against him and that he had been acquitted by Italian courts. The Indian side, however, maintained that Michel had been a key player in the AgustaWestland chopper scam.
Here's the full time line of the case:
August 1999: The Indian Air Force (IAF), which is responsible for carrying out VVIP communication duties, proposes replacement of Mi-8 helicopters and a global search for the replacement begins
November 2003: The then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee raises concerns over the single-vendor situation which leads to few recommendations to change some requirements to accommodate more vendors
March 2005: IAF allegedly dilutes requirements in the chopper acquisition, enabling AgustaWestland to complete after recommendations.
September 2006: Manmohan Singh-led PMO raises the requirement of choppers from eight to twelve
January 2010: After years of deliberations and changes in requirements, the Cabinet Committee on Security clears the deal for acquiring 12 VVIP choppers
February 2010: The Ministry of Defence signs the deal with UK's AgustaWestland
February 2012: Allegations of corruption while finalising the deal first surfaced in the Italian media after which the Indian Embassy in Rome was asked to submit a report on the allegations
February 2013: Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica, the parent firm of AgustaWestland gets arrested by the Italian police
February 2013: The Ministry of Defence begins the process of cancelling the deal and examines holding back the payment to AgustaWestland. It issues a show cause notice to AgustaWestland for breach of contract and integrity pact
February 2013: CBI takes over case formally
February 2013: CBI begins preliminary inquiry against ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi and 11 others
March 2013: CBI files FIR against Tyagi and 12 others on charges of cheating and alleged criminal conspiracy in the VVIP chopper deal
November 2013: The deadline for answering the show cause notice for AgustaWestland was 26 November. The company officials meet Ministry of Defence officials to give their side of the story. Justice BN Srikrishna is roped in as the arbitrator by AgustaWestland
January 2014: UPA government formally scraps the deal with AgustaWestland
September 2014: Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrests Gautam Khaitan on allegations of kickbacks in the 3,600 crore deal
October 2014: An Italian lower court acquits Orsi and former AgustaWestland chairman Bruno Spagnolini
April 2016: A Milan Court of Appeals sentences Orsi to four and half years and Spagnolini to four years in jail on charges of false accounting and bribing Indian officials including Tyagi
April 2016: Christian James Michel, the middleman in the deal says he is willing to face Indian authorities for investigation. Michel writes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention. In his letter to Modi, the middleman also offers evidence related to the case of Indian investigating agencies. Michel, however, denies reports of him and his father being close to the Gandhi family
May 2016: Former IAF chief SP Tyagi interrogated for his links with the middleman
December 2016: CBI arrests SP Tyagi for alleged bribery charges and criminal conspiracy, marking the first-ever arrest of a former IAF chief
June 2018: CBI seeks middleman's extradition from Italy
July 2018: Delhi court summons ex-AgustaWestland, Finmeccanica directors
September 2018: A Delhi court on Wednesday granted bail to former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi and his brothers in the AgustaWestland case
September 2018: Dubai Court Orders Extradition Of Christian Michel To India