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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

VVIP Chopper case: CBI files supplementary chargesheet against Michel, Saxena, 13 others

Notably, the chargesheet has not named former defence secretary and comptroller and auditor general Shashi Kant Sharma and former air vice-marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar as accused as it is still waiting for prosecution sanctions against them from the government.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Updated: September 20, 2020 1:32:46 am
VVIP Chopper case, Christian Michel, Agusta Westland case, CBI VVIP chopper case, CBI files chargesheet against Christian Michel, Rajeev Saxena, India news, Indian expressMichel had been extradited from UAE in December 2018 and was widely speculated to spill the beans on politicians who may have been paid off in the deal. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

The CBI has filed a supplementary chargesheet against 15 people, including middlemen Christian Michel James and Rajeev Saxena, in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal case.

The chargesheet, filed on Friday, does not name former defence secretary and comptroller and auditor general Shashi Kant Sharma and former air vice marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar as the agency is still waiting for prosecution sanctions against them from the government.

Michel, who was extradited from UAE in December 2018, was widely speculated to spill the beans on politicians who may have been paid off as part of the deal. Sources, however, said that among the 15 accused mentioned in the chargesheet, there is no politician or government official.

Indicating the leakage government documents, the chargesheet has however alleged that a close associate of Christian Michel, identified as K V Kunhikrishnan, had “received documents / information relating to ongoing subject procurement which were supplied to AgustaWestland officials including Giacomino Saponaro”. The CBI has alleged Kunhikrishnan received Rs 97 lakh as consultancy services from Michel for the same.

Apart from Kunhikrishnan and Saponaro, the others chargesheeted include six individuals — Sandeep Tyagi alia Kuki Tyagi (from the family of former IAF chief S P Tyagi); Praveen Bakshi and IDS Infotech MD Partap Krishan Aggarwal (who allegedly laundered kickbacks along with Rajiv Saxena); Narendra Kumar Jain and Rajesh Kumar Jain of Kolkata (who floated shell companies); Sunil Kothari, then managing director of OM Metals Infotech Pvt. Ltd; and Deepak Goyal, who worked with chargesheeted accused lawyer Gautam Khaitan.

The remaining five chargesheeted are entities — IDS Infotech Ltd, Chandigarh; Aeromatrix Info Solutions Pvt Ltd, New Delhi; Neel Madhav Consultants Pvt Ltd, New Delhi (through its director Sandeep Tyagi); Mainak Agency Pvt Ltd, (through its directors Sandeep Tyagi and Sanjeev Tyagi); and Interstellar Technologies Ltd, Mauritius (through its director Rajiv Saxena).

According to the chargesheet, Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie Tyagi and Sandeep Tyagi alias Kuki Tyagi through their New Delhi-based company Neel Madhav Consultant Pvt Ltd had acquired Oklkata-based Mainak Agency in 2009 “to launder illicit kickbacks/ill-gotten money (to the tune of approx Rs 5 crore) and received it through banking channels” in collusion with Narendra Kumar Jain, Rajesh Kumar Jain and Sunil Kothari.

“Narendra Jain and Rajesh Jain created shell companies and opened fake accounts in different banks for returning such kickbacks,” a CBI officer said, describing the process of turning the kickbacks into white money.

“Sanjeev Tyagi got Rs 5 crore as kickbacks. This is evident from conversations between (middlemen) Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. They had discussed that Sanjeev is a reliable person and has Indian contacts,” the officer said, quoting the chargesheet.

The chargesheet has alleged that P K Aggarwal, Praveen Bakshi and Rajiv Saxena “through their respective companies had facilitated in transferring/routing the kickbacks/bribe paid by AgustaWestland”.

“Deepak Goyal in collusion with Gautam Khaitan and others allegedly prepared fake invoices and sent mails for transferring the said kickbacks by AgustaWestland through IDS Tunisia, Interstellar Technologies Ltd and other companies,” the chargesheet has said.

Sources said the CBI chargesheet has alleged that the deal for which technical requirements were changed to help AgustaWestland qualify had been brokered by Michel and fellow middlemen Gerosa and Haschke. While the latter were allegedly “handling” the family of former IAF chief S P Tyagi (already chargesheeted in the case), Michel was dealing with officials from the Ministry of Defence.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing the case from the angle of money laundering, had in a chargesheet filed against Michel in April 2019 said that the British national had interpreted “AP” mentioned on a hand-written “budget sheet” recovered from Switzerland as Ahmed Patel. The ED chargehseet also stated that Michel had made a mention of “son of an Italian lady” and “the next prime minister of India” in a letter to Giusepp Orsi of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland.

Rajiv Saxena has been arraigned as an accused for helping divert the money through his shell companies in UAE. Saxena had earlier been made an approver in the case by ED but in October 2019, the agency moved an application in court to withdraw approver status granted to him, saying that he was “withholding crucial information in the case”.

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