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The British High Commission has sought consular access to Christian Michel, the Briton who was sent to a five-day custody of the CBI on Wednesday after he was arrested in Dubai and brought to Delhi to face probe in the Rs. 3,600-crore AugustaWestland chopper deal scam.

The UK government said it has sought information from New Delhi on the circumstances surrounding the extradition and detention of Michel. “Our staff continues to support the family of a British man following his detention in the UAE. We are in contact with his family and the Emirati authorities regarding his case, and are urgently seeking information from the Indian authorities on his circumstances,” a spokesman for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.

Michel was brought to Delhi from Dubai late on Tuesday night on special aircraft belonging to the Research and Analysis Wing close to midnight and taken to the CBI headquarters. He was brought back by a team of the agency’s officers who were especially in Dubai to get him back.  A Dubai court had last month upheld that he could be extradited though India officially made the request to the Gulf nation sometime back. Based on the criminal investigations conducted in the case by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), his extradition was officially ordered. The ED, in its chargesheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received Rs 225 crore from AugustaWestland. The money  was bribe paid by the firm to execute the 12 helicopter deal in favour of the firm in ‘guise of’ genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country, according to the chargesheet.

It is alleged that he entered into criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons which included the then IAF chief SP Tyagi and his family members and in pursuance thereof, the public servants had abused their official positions by reduction of service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6000 metres to 4500 metres.

He was allegedly a frequent visitor to India and was operating as a middleman for defence procurement through a wide network of sources cultivated in the IAF and Defence Ministry at different levels including retired and serving IAF officials.

—India Legal Bureau

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