The Enforcement Directorate (ED), probing the VVIP chopper deal, has told a Delhi special court that middleman Christian Michel allegedly received 30 million euros as kickbacks and sent cash packets to various people through his driver and regularly met Indian individuals, including cousins of former IAF chief S P Tyagi, while brokering the deal.
According to the ED, Michel also bought and sold a string of properties in Delhi which included a farmhouse in Chhatarpur and a showroom at the DLF Emporio mall in Vasant Kunj.
These details form part of a 74-page prosecution complaint (supplementary chargesheet) filed last week against Michel, his company Media Exim Pvt Ltd and its two directors R K Nanda and J B Subramaniyam in connection with the 3,700-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal. The ED is probing a case of money laundering with regard to the deal and has already filed a chargesheet against lawyer Gautam Khaitan.
According to the chargesheet, Michel, through his driver Narayan Bahadur, got several packets of cash delivered to Vimal Nagpal, Sama and Subi. While Nagpal was an employee of Westland Support Services Ltd (a subsidiary of AgustaWestland), details of Sama and Subi are still being ascertained.
The chargesheet states that Nagpal was paid Rs 15 lakh in cash in 2011 as a loan which was never repaid, then another Rs 10 lakh in 2012 to be given to one Anil Arora.
“The reason for payment to Arora was that AgustaWestland proposed to IAF to have six axis full flight simulators for training of pilots on regular basis… to run it as an offset programme, save flying hours, fuel and spare parts etc… Christian Michel James assured that he would give the work of simulator project to Arora’s company if Indian Air Force approves for change of offset programme to simulator programme,” the ED said.
The chargesheet also names individuals whom Michel met at his Delhi residence and Hyatt and Imperial hotels in about 50-60 visits. These include “Raju Santhanam, R K Nanda, Robin Thalia, Sameer Pandey, Prabhat Kumar, Maj Gen S C N Jatar, Chris, Mark and Peter”. According to the ED, the last three were once ferried by Michel’s driver to Sanjeev Tyagi’s bungalow in Sainik Farms — Sanjeev Tyagi is former IAF chief S P Tyagi’s cousin.
Santhanam, who is a journalist, had last year denied any wrongdoing on his part. In reply to a questionnaire sent by The Indian Express, he had said, “I have absolutely nothing to hide. I have clarified my position to the authorities in the past and will continue to do so.”
The chargesheet states that before the deal was cancelled, Michel was paid over 24 million euros of the 30 million euros from AgustaWestland. This money flowed into companies owned by Michel: Global Services FZE and Media Exim. According to ED, none of the companies conducted any business for the money they received nor delivered on the obligation of their contracts and were, therefore, laundering kickbacks.
The chargesheet notes that though Media Exim was set up as an export company, the only thing it ever sent out was Punjabi music CDs on demand from none other than Michel. It received Rs 6.33 crore from Global Services for virtually doing nothing, the ED said.
The chargesheet states that Media Exim bought properties, jewellery and paintings which were later sold. The assets it bought included a flat each in Safdarjung Enclave (Rs 54 lakh) and DLF Gurgaon (Rs 75 lakh), farm house at Satbari, Chhatarpur (Rs 1 crore), painting by S H Raza and others (Rs 16.6 lakh), cars (Rs 30 lakh) and jewellery (Rs 3.5 crore).
These properties, except the one at Safdarjung Enclave, were later sold by Michel before he fled India in February 2012. Sameer Pandey, a former Satyam Computers employee, who worked for Michel told ED that Michel had shown him a showroom at DLF Emporio which he claimed was his, the chargesheet states.
Though Michel has claimed in media interviews that he disliked Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, the other middlemen in the deal, and had very few interactions with them, the ED chargesheet says that Michel’s driver claimed that he often spoke about them.
The chargesheet also states that another company linked to Michel, Global Trade and Commerce Ltd, UK, raised invoices of 18.2 million euros to buy back obsolete Pawan Hans helicopters without ever making the purchase.
On the three middlemen, the chargesheet states: “All these three agents managed to make inroads in IAF and thereby could influence and subvert the consistent stand of IAF regarding mandatory services ceiling of the helicopter…” which helped AgustaWestland bag the contract for 12 VVIP choppers.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines