Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, has been missing since a Dubai court ordered his extradition to India, his lawyer Amal Alsubei told NDTV on Wednesday.
“He will be arrested if found,” Alsubei said. “He is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court.”
On Tuesday, a court in the United Arab Emirates ordered Michel’s extradition to India, according to media reports. Michel is wanted in India for allegedly organising the payment of bribes to Indian defence officials in exchange for a contract for 12 luxury helicopters. He was detained in the UAE in June but got bail the following month.
In July, reports claimed Michel was being pressured by Indian agencies to frame Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in return for exoneration from criminal proceedings.
The Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation have been trying to extradite Michel. As per the law, he can appeal against the order.
The Central Bureau of Investigation told NDTV that it was yet to receive an official confirmation of the extradition order. In the case of UAE, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decides the fate of an accused against who the court has given an extradition order, ANI reported quoting unidentified officials of the Ministry of External Affairs.
The AgustaWestland helicopter deal, which snowballed into a huge controversy, relates to an agreement that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government signed with the British-Italian firm in 2007. The deal was put on hold after Italy arrested the head of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland’s parent company, on charges of paying bribes to win the contract. Michel is one of three suspected middlemen who Indian investigative agencies believe brokered the deal.