Christian Michel, 57, is a British businessman who has been extradited to India to face prosecution for alleged bribery in connection with New Delhi’s $720m acquisition of 12 VIP helicopters. On Tuesday night, while Sushma Swaraj, India’s foreign minister, was in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for an official visit he was transported from Dubai to New Delhi.
Michel, is alleged to have acted as an agent for AgustaWestland, which sold these helicopters in 2010 to the country’s previous Congress Party which was in government then. The court hearing that followed on Wednesday ordered Mr. Michel to spend the next five days in CBI custody for interrogation.
Both the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have declared this as a victory in government's battle against corruption. Mr Modi at an election rally in Rajasthan on Wednesday also gloated over Mr Michels’ extradition, suggesting that the British businessman could incriminate powerful people from the former Congress administration.
Mr Michel’s deportation to India comes at a time when Mr Modi’s government is under fire from the opposition Congress for an €8bn deal to purchase 36 fighter jets made by Dassault Aviation from the French government.
India is headed for general elections in May 2019.