Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday tore into Congress bigwigs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam for favouring 'middleman Christian Michel over India'.
Addressing a rally in Odisha PM Modi said; "The middleman of the VVIP chopper scam, the man who is the secret-keeper of the Congress, Christian Michel, who has been brought to India from abroad, one of his letters have revealed how he knew top Congress leaders and ministers very well. In fact, in that period, even the prime minister (Manmohan Singh) did not have as much information as middlemen. He used to send this information to foreign nations, as far as the chopper purchase was concerned, which minister is taking what decision, he was selling all this information abroad… I don’t understand whether the Congress ran a government or their Michel uncle’s office. I would like tell everyone clearly today: whoever has favoured middlemen over their own country will be brought to justice and they will be probed by the agencies and the people of the country".
Michel, one of the three key middlemen who is believed to have brokered the deal between AgustaWestland and the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, was extradited to India on December 4. The United Arab Emirates passed an administrative decision, clearing the path to Michel’s extradition. The process was monitored by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
The scam took a fresh turn after Michel named 'Mrs Gandhi' and 'son of the Italian lady' while in custody on December 29.
PM Modi had attacked the Congress party saying that it was afraid of the 'chowkidar'.
Michel is being probed for having paid kickbacks worth over Rs 400 crore to Indian decision makers in the AgustaWestland scam, which involves allegations of bribery in the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters, meant to ferry Indian PM, President and other important personalities.
Michel was arrested in UAE last year on the basis of an Interpol notice and was out on bail.
It was alleged that Michel had entered into a criminal conspiracy with co-accused persons, which included the then IAF chief SP Tyagi and his family members, and the public servants had abused their official positions by reducing service ceiling of the VVIPs helicopter from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres.
The reduction in the ceiling made AgustaWestland eligible for a contract worth 556.262 million Euros, which was awarded to it by the Defence Ministry on February 08, 2010, for procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters.