Christian James Michel is wanted in India in connection with the AgustaWestland helicopter bribery case involving the purchase of 12 helicopters worth around $638 million. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A lawyer asked a court on Monday to revoke the decision to extradite his client, a British businessman wanted by the Indian authorities, citing improper enforcement of law procedures.

In September, the Dubai Appeal Court approved the India’s request to extradite the British national, Christian James Michel, who had denied the charges of alleged commercial fraud, bribery and money laundering in the extradition papers.

Extradition request

India lodged the extradition request alleging fraud, bribery and money laundering as part of investigations into a multi-million dollar helicopter purchase deal.

“The extradition request was lodged by India’s Ministry of External Affairs and it should have been lodged by the Indian Home Ministry," argued lawyer Abdul Moneim Bin Suwaidan before the Dubai Cassation Court on Monday.

"As per the Criminal Extradition Accord signed between the UAE and India, the Indian Home Ministry is the authority that should have lodged the request," he added.

"The approval to extradite Michel was an improper implementation of the law procedures since it contradicts article 8 of the Accord,” the lawyer added.

Arguing before presiding judge Abdul Aziz Abdullah and his five deputy judges in courtroom 22, lawyer Bin Suwaidan said: “My client has a company based in Dubai. In the extradition papers, the accusations that were alleged to have been committed, purported that my client’s company was used to launder money…"

"If that’s true," he added, "then he shouldn’t be tried for those alleged accusations in India. He should be tried here before the UAE courts due to jurisdictional purposes. Hence, the Appeal Court should have rejected the request.”

Arrest

In February 2017, Indian authorities lodged an extradition request for Michel. He was subsequently arrested by Dubai Police and handed over to the Dubai Public Prosecution.

The case first came up for hearing in the Dubai court in July. Michel pleaded not guilty and refuted the accusations against him when questioned by Dubai prosecutors.

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Bin Suwaidan said: “This is a crystal-clear political case or related to politics to say the least. The Indian authorities want Michel’s custody in connection with the case known as ‘Agusta-Westland helicopter bribery case’ involving the purchase of 12 helicopters.

"Indian authorities have named Michel as an alleged middleman who routed bribes allegedly paid by Anglo-Italian company Agusta-Westland to Indian politicians and officials. Back then, my client worked as an advisor and specialised expert and not an employee with an administrative position. He had no control over bank accounts or financial transactions.

“After the deal was sealed, a group of specialists and technical experts received the helicopters through government bodies with the knowledge of the Ministry of Defence and the Indian government," he said. 

"After the deal, several political developments took place in India … my client’s name was falsely and unfoundedly brought up in this case to coerce him to testify against former politicians as part of political rivalry in India," he added.

"The motives behind associating my client to this case are obviously political. The Italian judicial authorities had acquitted the company of any of the Indian accusations and subsequently Michel was cleared as well in 2014.

"Moreover, the extradition request rotates around an incident that happened in 2009 and should be dismissed due to time lapse.”

Bin Suwaidan concluded his argument by asking the Cassation Court to overturn the appellate court’s decision and reject the extradition request.

Gulf News has learnt that Michel’s defence team lodged a request to bail him after the hearing.

The trial continues.