AgustaWestland’s alleged middleman Christian Michel, who is currently under judicial custody and is being interrogated by CBI and ED, might be charged under the Official Secrets Act, a report in the Economic Times has stated.
On Saturday, the Enforcement Directorate, which has interrogated Michel during the 14-day custody, had produced him in court. Seeking his judicial custody to be extended, the probe agency had submitted that Michel may flee if released.
The Patiala House Court has extended his judicial custody remand till February 26.
As per reports, Michel has admitted during interrogation that he did not only lobby on behalf of Agusta but had received money from other defence deals as well. It is alleged that he routed the money through Hawala.
As per reports, the key issue being investigated by ED is how Michel attempted to exclude TATA and HAL from the competition and tried to mask the deal as a British deal. He is believed to have obtained inside information from various sources and misuse them to swing the deal in Agusta’s favor, for which he might be charged under the sections of the OSA.
It was revealed earlier that Michel had inside information of the movement of files pertaining to the Agusta deal and had allegedly even mentioned in his communications to Giuseppe Orsi, Agusta’s CEO, that the PMO has ensured the deal faces no obstacle. His communication with Giuseppe Orsi has also revealed that Michel had insights into the working and meetings of the Cabinet Committee for Security (CCS).
Michel is also being accused of sending documents pertaining to critical details of internal security meetings, CCS meetings and movement of files in the PMO abroad to AugustaWestland’s CEO and others.
Michel is accused of receiving kickbacks to the tunes of 24.25 million euros and 1,60,96,245 pounds from the AgustaWestland deal.
As per the ET report, though Michel is yet to name the beneficiaries of the chopper deal kickbacks, the CBI and ED have unearthed the in-flow of large sums of money to Michel. The role of a senior Congress leader’s son, who ‘arranged’ the transactions too is being allegedly probed.
Michel is reportedly being made to write down his answers and the names of persons who he was in contact with. ‘Mrs. Gandhi’s’ name has popped up in the list, written in Michel’s own handwriting, claimed the ET report.
KRBL, a Basmati Rice Exporting company is also being probed as Gautam Khaitan, a lawyer who is a co-accused in the case, was the joint director of the company from 2007 to 2013. ED sources have reportedly mentioned that the proceeds of the kickbacks and bribes were being laundered through Rawasi Al Khaleej General Trading, a subsidiary of KRBL. KRBL had reportedly denied receiving kickback money or laundering it.