VVIP chopper deal: Michel was eager about Sea King payments

Last Updated 16 June 2016, 11:08 IST

British national and alleged middleman Christian Michel James, wanted in India in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal case, was keen to get details about certain government payments made to AgustaWestland for Sea King helicopters used by the Navy, says a ED probe report.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has filed a second charge sheet in the case that delves deep into the role of Michel, also said that HE was curious if some particular documents had reached the CBI.

According to the report, Michel was last dropped by his driver Narayan Bahadur on February 12, 2013 at the Indira Gandhi International airport here after he which he probably never returned to India.

The charge sheet which goes into Michel's numerous visits and meeting with people in Delhi when the deal for supply of 12 AgusatWestland helicopters to the IAF was being struck, also refers to an incident that took place few years back in a hotel in Italy.

The report mentioned that Michel had offered about Euro 2,500 to a person Vimal Nagpal, Manager of the helicopter firm's services division in India, to "offer lunch/dinner" to a Navy team that was also staying in the same hotel that time.

"The Indian Navy team declined the offer for lunch/dinner by him (Nagpal) and Chris Cornish. However, we insisted and paid the dinner bill once," Nagpal said in his statement to the ED.

He also told ED investigators that Michel "wanted to know the details" of payments made by the Indian government to AgustaWestland pertaining to Sea King helicopter and status of the VVIP choppers and other issues.

"On one such occasion, Michel wanted to check with him (Nagpal) whether the documents approximately 9,500 pages were delivered to CBI or not," the charge sheet said, adding Nagpal replied to him that he will check and get back.

The records also mention an instance recorded by Bahadur where he said that Sanjeev Tyagi, cousin of former IAF chief S P Tyagi, received "three friends of Michel" at a bungalow in the posh Sainik farm area here in 2008 after the middleman asked him to pick them from a luxury hotel in central Delhi.

The driver, whose statements have been extensively used to join the dots of Michel's activities in India, also told ED investigators that the middleman once gave him Rs 5 lakh for purchasing a house in the Kalkaji area, where he also lives now.

The house was priced at Rs 16 lakh and the remaining amount was paid by the driver from his savings, he told the agency. 

Bahadur had also divulged that Michel, till as recent as February this year, used to send him money through wire transfer and that he has got over Rs 1 lakh through this channel in three tranches in less than an year's time.

Bahadur said he also used to carry cash amounts for handing over to various people in Delhi, on Michel's instructions.

"Apart from these payments he (Bahadur) had also received payments from Michel several other times as well," the driver said.

Bahadur told ED that he used to get Rs 12,000 per month in cash as his salary and once when he was taken by ED officials for identifcation of spots visited by Michel he pointed to a property in Vasant Vihar area of south Delhi as that of Michel's friend 'Paolo'.

As per current records, the charge sheet said, an Embassy of an African country is currently operational at the said bungalow.

Nagpal had also told ED that Bahadur had once delivered him cash amounts sent by Michel as AgustaWestland had proposed to IAF to have "six-axis full flight
simulators for training pilots on regular basis" for the AW-101 VVIP choppers.

He also told ED that Michel had assured him that he will get "approvals from higher officials of AgustaWestland" to allocate the simulator project to a chosen firm in India.

However, the plan never worked out as IAF "did not" approve the simulator programme.

The 1,300 page charge sheet of the ED was placed before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court here last week.

It has said the agency's investigation into the case has found that Michel allegedly received around Euro 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from Ms AgustaWestland which was nothing but "kickbacks" paid by the firm to execute the deal for sale of 12 helicopters to India in favour of the firm in "guise of" of genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country.

The court is expected to soon take cognisance of the supplementary charge sheet.
Apart from Michel, the agency has named Ms Media Exim Private Limited and its directors, R K Nanda and J B Subramaniyam in the charge sheet. The firm was created by Michel along with the two individuals.

Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, apart from Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the ED and the CBI. Both the agencies have also notified an Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) or the global arrest warrant against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him.  
(Published 16 June 2016, 11:00 IST)

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