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AgustaWestland scam: I never met Sonia, Manmohan or Antony, says middleman Christian Michel

Chirstian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal, today said that he has never met Congress president Sonia Gandhi or the then prime minister Manmohan Singh to push for the purchase of VVIP choppers.

India TV News Desk Published on: May 11, 2016 14:07 IST
AgustaWestland scam
AgustaWestland scam

New Delhi: Chirstian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal, today said that he has never met Congress president Sonia Gandhi or the then prime minister Manmohan Singh to push for the purchase of VVIP choppers.

"No, never," was the prompt reply of Michel when he was asked whether he had ever met Gandhi, Singh or the then defence minister AK Antony for pushing the deal. "I have never met any of these," he said.

Michel sought to clear his name from the kickbacks scam claiming that he had ‘once’ shaken hands with the then IAF chief SP Tyagi in Delhi but avoided him for his links with Italian businessman Guido Haschke and another middleman.

"I probably met him (S P Tyagi) in Gymkhana club and I think I shook his hand there. But because of his association with Haschke I really avoided him," he said.

He also said that BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has not lied about the deal but it seems he has been misled.

"He has authenticated (documents) what was given in the CAG report. The CAG report was prepared in great hurry as the deal was always blowing away. They (CAG) are not aviation experts and they are bureaucrats asked to put together document way beyond their expertise. So he was misled by his own documentation," he said.

CBI yesterday questioned RK Nanda, an associate of Michel, in connection with the deal to know the outward flow of purported foreign remittances worth Rs 6.5 crore received by his firm from Michel. CBI sources said advocate Gautam Khaitan, Praveen Bakshi, CEO of Aeromatrix Infosolutions Pvt Limited and Pratap Aggarwal, Managing Director of IDS Infotech were also questioned separately.

They said Nanda who runs a travel business based in Connaught Place here had allegedly set up a shell company Media Exim in which Rs 6.5 crore were received from Michel between 2005-07. The sources said the company was set up in 2005 ostensibly to export jewellery and music CDs but it is suspected that the funds received from Michel were allegedly used to purchase properties at Tony locations here.

They said the agency questioned him how the funds were utilised as it believes that they could have been used to influence decision makers and middlemen in the deal.

Nanda's travel company Supreme Airways also received Rs 12 crore from Global Service FZE, which was Michael's company in Dubai, in 2012, which was allegedly used to purchase tickets for various influential people including some former Indian Air Force officials.

The sources claimed that he was also questioned in 2013 but now the focus has changed after the Milan Court of Appeals verdict.

CBI had registered a case against former IAF Chief S P Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins, Bakshi, Aggarwal and European middlemen--Guido Haschke, Carlo Gerosa and Chritian Michel.

The allegation against Tyagi is that he reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft) which put AgustaWestland helicopters in the race for the deal without which its choppers were not even qualified for submission of bids.

Tyagi has denied allegations against him and said the change of specifications, which brought AgustaWestland into contention, was a collective decision in which senior officers of Indian Air Force, SPG and other departments were involved.

With PTI Inputs

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