Research into the British request for consular access to Christian Michel: MEA

NEW DELHI: The external affairs ministry on Thursday said it was examining a request by the British High Commission for seeking consular access to Christian Michel, the British national who was brought here from the UAE two days ago in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal scam.

"We have received a request from the UK High Commission seeking consular access. The matter at this point of time is being examined within the ministry," MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters.

He said the government will revert to the British High Commission soon.

On Wednesday, the British High Commission sought consular access to Michel, the alleged middleman accused of bribing politicians and officials to swing the chopper deal in Agusta's favour.

An official in the high commission said that the British government was in contact with Michel's family.

Michel, 57, was brought to India late on Tuesday night following his extradition by the United Arab Emirates in connection with the chopper deal case. A court on Wednesday sent him to a five-day custody of the CBI, probing the scam.

Asked about Michel's extradition, Kumar said the MEA had received two requests from the CBI and the ED and the requests were forwarded by Indian Mission to the UAE authorities.

"After following due process and exhaustion of judicial process, Christian Michel was extradited to India. The matter is being handled by CBI," he said.

Michel is one of the three middlemen, being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. Michel has denied the charges.

The CBI has alleged there was an estimated loss of 398.21 million euro (approximately Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth 556.262 million euro.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), in its chargesheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received 30 million euro (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.

The money was nothing but "kickbacks" paid by the firm to execute the 12 helicopter deal in favour of the firm in the "guise of" genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country, according to the chargesheet.

The ED investigation found that remittances made by Michel through his Dubai-based firm Global Services to a media firm he floated in Delhi, along with two Indians, were made from the funds which he got from AgustaWestland through "criminal activity" and corruption in the chopper deal, which led to the subsequent generation of proceeds of crime.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.