Agusta middleman ready to face probe in India if he’s not arrested
Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, is ready to come to India and face investigators if he gets an assurance that he will not be arrested, his lawyer Rosemary Patrizi Dos Anjos said on Tuesday.Updated: May 03, 2016 23:35 IST
Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, is ready to come to India and face investigators if he gets an assurance that he will not be arrested, his lawyer Rosemary Patrizi Dos Anjos said on Tuesday.
Anjos said that Michel is living in Dubai and is willing to speak the “truth”.
Michel is among three non-Indian middlemen who were accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of taking commissions worth €70 million from AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian defence giant Finmeccanica, to bribe officials who helped ink a deal to sell 12 VVIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force.
AgustaWestland allegedly paid more than Rs 375 crore as bribe to seal the deal, but it was scrapped in 2014 after graft charges surfaced.
“He has arrest warrant and that is why he can’t go to India. He is not free to go. He would like to go and answer everything and tell the truth but not with arrest warrant,” Anjos told Times Now channel from Milan.
She said Michel is available to answer all questions in front of a judge if he gets a formal invitation from Indian authorities but he must be assured that he is not going to be arrested.
The chopper controversy rocked the ongoing Parliament session after a Milan court convicted two Italians for bribing Indian officials and politicians to secure the Rs 3,727-crore contract in 2010.
Although the Italian court did not indict any Indian politician, the ruling BJP has sought to corner the Congress over references in the court documents to middlemen talking about “Signora Gandhi” - believed to be Congress president Sonia Gandhi - being the “driving force” behind the deal.
On Tuesday, the CBI questioned former IAF chief SP Tyagi for the second day in connection with the deal. Tyagi is accused of meeting a middleman who cleared the way for AgustaWestland.
CBI sources said that during the probe they came across a trip undertaken by Tyagi to Florence, Venice and Milan in Italy after he retired in 2007. They said it is being probed who accompanied him on the trip and who funded for the hospitality.
Union minister V K Singh said Tyagi could not have acted alone and many people must have been involved in the scam.
Rahul vs BJP
As Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said he was always the target of political rivals, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed the Congress should not play the victim card in the chopper deal.
The BJP has accused Kanishka Singh, an aide to Gandhi, of being involved in the AgustaWestland and 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) scams.