AgustaWestland Chopper Scam Case: Dubai Govt Passes Order to Extradite Middleman Christian Mickel
AgustaWestland (Photo Credit: PTI/File)

New Delhi, December 4: In a big win for India, Dubai government has passed order to extradite Agusta Westland deal middleman Christian Mickel on Tuesday. The formal administrative order was long awaited after Dubai’s highest court rejected Mickel’s plea against extradition.

With the latest order, Mickel - one of the accused in the VVIP chopper scandal - stakes are high that he might be brought to India within this week, said people with direct knowledge about the matter informed. The Union government has been waiting for the confirmation since September, and the latest report indicates that the Indian officials are already in UAE. AgustaWestland Chopper Scam Case: Awaiting Confirmation on Reports About Christian Michel's Extradition, Says CBI

The apex court of Dubai on November had rejected Mickel’s plea, and with that, the Ministry of Justice started completing the formalities associated with the extradition of Mickel. Soon after Mickel reaches India, he would be presented at Patiala House Court where the prosecutors will seek his custodial interrogation.

The extradition appeal of Mickel started in February 2017 by the central probing agency, along with the help of the Ministry of External Affairs. Earlier, the Dubai government had informed the Indian counterpart that it didn’t find any evidence regarding Dubai Company facilitating the payments of kickbacks.

The CBI had filed charge sheet in the matter in September last year, naming former IAF Chief S P Tyagi as one of the accused. Besides him, the agency has also charge-sheeted retired Air Marshal J S Gujral along with eight others, including five foreign nationals. Michel is one of the three foreign country-based middlemen charge-sheeted in the matter.

The central probing agency has alleged that there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (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 Euro 556.262 million. The CBI had earlier alleged that during Tyagi's tenure as air force chief, the Air Force conceded to reduce the mandatory service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres.

The Air Force was earlier vehemently opposing the service ceiling reduction on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons. It has claimed that reduction of the service ceiling, or the maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally, allowed UK-based AgustaWestland to come into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids.