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NEW DELHI: The alleged British middleman in a dicey helicopter deal between India and an Anglo-Italian firm was remanded in custody on Wednesday after being extradited by the UAE, authorities said.

Christian Michel James is accused of arranging kickbacks to Indian officials to secure a deal for AgustaWestland to supply New Delhi with 12 helicopters for $630 million in 2010.

Brought in from the United Arab Emirates late Tuesday, James appeared in a Delhi court amid tight security. He will remain in police custody initially for five days and be allowed to meet his lawyer for one hour twice a day during this period, lawyers said.

Italian prosecutors suspect illegal sweeteners worth about 10 per cent of the contract, or some 55 million euros, were paid out in bribes. India cancelled the deal in January 2014.

James, who in previous interviews with Indian newspapers denied any wrongdoing, was detained in Dubai in February 2017 following an Indian arrest warrant and an Interpol notice.

In Italy, the former head of AgustaWestland and of parent company Finmec­canica were given jail sentences in 2014 over the scandal but they were later acquitted.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018

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