The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached a Paris property belonging to the ex-wife of VVIP chopper scam accused Christian Michel. The property, worth over Rs 5.83 crore, has been attached under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED is probing Michel for receiving alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore AugustaWestland chopper deal. According to the ED, part of kickbacks in the deal were also transferred to his ex-wife, Valerie Michel.
“The ED has provisionally attached (an) immovable property in France in the name of M/s SCI Solaime situated at 45 Avenue Victor Hugo, Paris belonging to his ex-wife Mrs Valerie Michel who had received Proceeds of Crime from the accused,” an ED statement said.
Michel was extradited from UAE to India in December 2018 and arrested by ED the same month for his alleged role in influencing bureaucrats and politicians to swing the deal in favour of Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.
“The investigation has revealed that Christian Michel James is a middleman who received kickbacks from the VVIP chopper deal to the tune of euro 42 million. During the course of investigation, it was seen that funds were transferred from Dubai-based companies to various entities. Investigation revealed that Christian Michel James had transferred the amount received as kickbacks to various entities, including Euro 922185.76, equivalent to INR 5,83,40,422 to his ex-wife Valerie Michel and subsequently to M/s SCI Solaime for investment in purchase of above referred immovable property,” the statement said.
According to investigations by the CBI and ED, AgustaWestland set aside 70 million euros in the offset category, to be transferred to companies floated by the alleged middlemen. “The real deal was that of the 70 million euros, only 30 per cent would be utilised for actual work, including engineering services and media handling, while the rest would be diverted to pay bribes,” an investigator said.
The CBI has alleged that Indian officials were paid bribes to the tune of Rs 362 crore to swing the deal in favour of the Anglo-Italian firm.
Investigators have said that while Haschke and another middleman, Carlo Gerosa, allegedly paid off family members of former Indian Air Force Chief S P Tyagi, Michel was dealing with Ministry of Defence bureaucrats and politicians. It is for this that Indian agencies have been chasing Michel.
The alleged payments to Michel flowed into his companies including Global Services FZE and Media Exim.