The CBI has got a boost in its investigation into the alleged corruption in the AgustaWestland helicopter scam after it has been able to acquire an important piece of evidence against middleman Christian Michel, reported Times of India.
According to the reports, the CBI has got a significant document pertaining to Italian investigations which had initially pointed out irregularities in the helicopter deal. An internal audit report carried out by the AgustaWestland of Christian Michel’s firms Global Trade and Commerce Ltd London and Global Services FZE, Dubai has indicated that payments worth 34 million euros (approx Rs 276 crore) made by them were “dubious”.
The report of the AgustaWestland vice-president (auditor), Giorgio Casana, was shared to the CBI by the Italian authorities in his response to a letter with hundreds of fax dispatches between the representatives of Michel and AgustaWestland, where had they discussed the VVIP helicopter tender, payments and meeting details among other things.
The Times of India has reported that CBI sources have said that Casana had travelled to Dubai to audit GTCL and GSF and noticed significant irregularities in using 34 million euros of the total of 42.27 million euros paid by AgustaWestland to Michel.
Reportedly, Christian Michel and his office manager David Syms were then confronted by Casana for these “dubious” payments, but both gave “false explanations” regarding the transaction of such a large amount. However, Michel has claimed that he took money from AgustaWestland as a fee for “consulting”, but the investigators claim that they were bribes and that he did not provide any consulting business to the company.
The audit report obtained by CBI officials is reported to play an important role in the next charge sheet, which will be comprehensive and mentions the alleged “dubious” transactions.
Christian Michel, who is in the custody of CBI, has already admitted to receiving payments from the AgustaWestland. The ToI has reported that Michel has admitted that he had paid $11,000 per month to the “family” for a few months, referring to the former IAF chief Air Marshal (retired) SP Tyagi and his cousins.
Christian Michel is also reported to have met former IAF and defence ministry officials regularly. CBI has also accessed the fax between AgustaWestland and the intermediaries that reveal that Tyagi was lobbying for AgustaWestland even after his retirement.
The wanted fugitive and middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, Christian Michel, was brought to India late on Tuesday night following his extradition by the UAE.
Christian Michel is accused of money laundering, bribery, and fraud in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore worth AgustaWestland scam. It is believed that not only did he pay kickbacks to politicians, officers and agents but also involved certain celebrity journalists to swing the deal.