British national Christian Michel, the middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, has known “Mrs Gandhi” since 1986, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in its fourth supplementary chargesheet…writes Amiya Kumar Kushwaha
Sources confirmed that besides “Mrs Gandhi”, the names of other Congress leaders were also mentioned in the chargesheet filed before a city court on Thursday, but not as accused in the case.
However, it was not clear who “Mrs Gandhi” was and in which context her name was mentioned.
The chargesheet has listed a series of “dispatches” between February 2008 and October 2009 by Michel, including one dated March 15, 2008, that mentioned “Mrs Gandhi” as the driving force behind the V.I.P. informing that she will not fly any more in the Mi-8.
The ED recovered these dispatches from a hard disk seized from the custody of J.B. Subramanian, who was Michel’s employee and was allegedly carrying out various illegal activities of the British national.
It is learnt that the correctness of the contents of the dispatches were admitted both by Michel and Subramanian.
“However, Michel has displayed selective loss of memory with reference to some of dispatches even when he acknowledged knowing Mrs Gandhi since 1986/87 and the explained identity of the party elite who had used to put pressure on Prime Minister,” the chargesheet said.
Michel has told the ED that his father was also a middleman in various defence deals and he took over the business when his father was denied a visa to India in 1986-87.
The ED said that Michel has incorporated several companies across India, Dubai and Singapore through which kickbacks were routed.
It added that Michel was confronted with these dispatches.
A dispatch dated October 1, 2009, read: “Meeting at the beginning of week with regards to the Italian lady’s son.
“The gentleman confirms that the son will be next Prime Minister as his power in party is growing day by day.”
These dispatches has revealed that Michel was privy to the confidential information which was used well in advance to influence the deal, the ED has alleged, adding that the influencing helped Agusta to bag the deal.
In early 2003, Agusta failed to achieve favourable order as it could not meet operational requirements but later they took the services of Guido Haschke and Michel to get the contract.
Michel was in touch with Air force officials, bureaucrats, ministers and top political leaders of the ruling party and had used their influence to procure the order.
It is learnt that kickbacks were paid separately under different agreements between companies of Michel, Haschke and AgustaWestland.
The agency also said in the chargesheet that kickbacks worth 70 million euros were paid to important political persons of the ruling party, media persons, defence officials and bureaucrats” directly or through middlemen who helped Michel and Haschke in influencing the decision of the government.
The chargesheet named Michel’s partner David Syms and his company Global Services Ltd and Global Trading Ltd as accused in the case.
Michel had used the companies as a conduit for receiving money.
The ED said that the bribe from AgustaWestland was routed through Global Services and Global Trading.
The agency said that further investigation was going on over the role of politicians and bureaucrats in the case.
Michel was extradited to India on December 4, 2018, from the United Arab Emirates.