In January this year, it was found that UPA-era’s AugustaWestland scam middleman Christian Michel with another middleman Guido Haschke had worked on a plan to lobby for Eurofighter against Rafale in order to win the deal for 126 fighter planes in its favour.
Now as per a Times of India report, agencies have been able to unearth even more evidence stating that in one of Michel’s communications there is a reference to “three bosses” in India, who could be worked with to sway the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft in favour of Germany based Eurofighter.
The dispatches dated April-May 2010 talk about finding bureaucratic-political “navigators” in the Indian government who can help Eurofighter grab the deal. In communication with Finmeccanica heads, Michel reportedly tells that out of three bosses in India, only one is available. Eurofighter is designed by a consortium of multinational defence companies from UK, Germany, Italy and Spain. Italian firm Finmeccanica which makes AgustaWestland choppers owns 21 per cent shares in the Eurofighter consortium.
During the investigation, some startling revelations came to fore, when it was found in one of the dispatches with Finmeccanica, Michel was in possession of some official documents on Rafale including technical evaluation reports. In other communications with Finmeccanica, Michel guided them to adjust its proposal in such a way that pricing structure of the deal becomes more complex and pricing becomes tough to verify.
Agencies are also probing Michel’s role in delaying the 126 Rafale Jet deal during UPA, and his role in government putting the deal on freeze.
Christian Michel was extradited from UAE last year. He is accused of money laundering, bribery, and fraud in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper 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. He is currently lodged in Tihar jail.
Evidence found by investigative agencies suggesting Michel’s efforts along with several politicians and bureaucrats raises suspicion regarding the involvement of various other parties including the opposition in the matter of India’s national security.
Recent investigations on several UPA era defence scams have hinted at the involvement of top leadership of Congress party in the deals. It has also been revealed that Congress president Rahul Gandhi and party General Secretary Priyanka Vadra had done questionable land deals with H L Pahwa, who is linked with arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.