CBI confronts Michel with documents

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday confronted Christian Michel, an alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal case, with a series of documents obtained from Italy and those gathered as part of the probe since 2013.

The agency said it had received a request from the British High Commission, through the Ministry of External Affairs, for consular access to Mr. Michel.

He was produced in a city court that sent him to five-day CBI custody on Wednesday.

The CBI had got the deal papers, running into more than 1.5 lakh pages, from Italy through the Defence Ministry.

They revealed that Mr. Michel allegedly entered into various agreements with AgustaWestland and related entities to help clinch the contract for supply of 12 helicopters.

“The first priority is to get the papers linked to Mr. Michel corroborated through him, which will take some time,” said an official.

Others may be called

The CBI may then summon the other accused persons and witnesses to confront them with Mr. Michel for verification of facts pertaining to the alleged bribe money trail.

Former Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev Tyagi figures in the list of those allegedly in touch with Mr. Michel, as indicated by a witness who was his driver.

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that the Tyagi cousins and their companies received €1.05 million from AgustaWestland-U.K. through the other two middlemen, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke. The payments were made via their Tunisia-based firms Gordian Services Sarl and IDS Tunisia largely in the form of consultancy charges.

The driver, in his statement to the investigating agencies, has told that he had heard him mentioning the name of Mr. Gerosa and Mr. Haschke. The two had allegedly received more than 24 million euros from AgustaWestland for the job.

The CBI alleges that Mr. Michel, being an expert in the area of defence products, was imposed as a controller on the other two middlemen by the supplier firm.

Mr. Michel will be asked about a July-2006 meeting in Italy’s Cascina Costa, in which the then AgustaWestland Commercial Manager, Renzo Lunardi, and its CEO Giuseppe Orsi decided that he would join the other two in carrying out scouting and monitoring work for supply of helicopters to India.

“As directed by the court, Mr. Michel’s lawyer is being allowed to meet him twice every day. A team of doctors has been kept on standby to attend to him if he complains of any health problem,” said the official.

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