AgustaWestland bribery case accused in Dubai

India's investigative agencies have traced Christian Michel - a key accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper bribery case - to Dubai and are studying the bilateral extradition treaty between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India to get his custody.

Michel, who allegedly acted as a middleman in the bribery case, was used by the British helicopter firm to secure the deal with the Indian government.

"We have learnt from our sources that one of the accused Michel is staying in Dubai. But getting his custody looks difficult. We are studying the extradition treaty," said a government official.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will be approaching the Central Bureau of Investigation for issuance of a red corner notice.

ED had obtained arrest warrants against three Europeans - Christian Michel, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke - in the Rs 3,700-crore bribery case.

"India and UAE have an extradition treaty, but has not been of much help in the past. We are hopeful that this time, we will be able to get custody with government's intervention," said the official.

India and UAE have a bilateral extradition treaty, which includes mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters.

It also has provisions that the two countries shall extradite any person found in their respective countries, accused or convicted of an extraditable offence.

AgustaWestland, a British helicopter manufacturer owned by Italian company Finmeccanica, had signed a deal with India's defence ministry in March 2010, and planned to build the helicopters in Yeovil. However, in February 2013, it emerged that AgustaWestland paid large sums of money to middlemen to help facilitate the deal, which in turn was used to bribe Indian defence officials during the procurement process.

Giuseppe Orsi, chief executive of Finmeccanica, was arrested in Italy for allegedly paying money to Michel to persuade the then Indian Air Force chief to alter the specifications for the helicopter tender to match AgustaWestland's VVIP model.

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