NEW DELHI: Just a week after the VVIP helicopter deal with AgustaWestland was signed by the Defence Ministry, fugitive British middleman Christian Michel received a call on his London mobile number 44778*****71 from 98*****660, which, according to top sources, is registered in the name of a firm owned by Gautam Khaitan, an Indian middleman accused in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland scam. Sources told Express that two calls were made to Michel on February 15, 2010, and subsequently two more were made on June 5, 2010.
Christian Michel, according to the Italian court verdict, got €44 million from the AgustaWestland deal and played a key role in swinging it in favour of the Italian firm. Sources said Michel could reveal the name of Indian politicians who allegedly lobbied on his behalf and perhaps pocketed the kickback booty. “We are in the process of getting him here as only Michel can disclose the identity of Indian politicians and major players involved in the scam. There is overwhelming evidence against Michel and some of his front men in the deal and his recent move of writing letters to the Prime
Minister claiming innocence is an eyewash and diversionary tactic,” according to a source.
Contrary to some reports that Michel had nothing to do with the AgustaWestland deal, the sources said he was operating through his foot soldiers, who, Indian investigators have been able to identify and piece together to unravel the missing links in the scam.
They have unearthed that Khaitan was in touch with Carlo Gerosa, a Swiss middleman, who called him from his number 41796****71 (Gerosa’s number) on February 10, two days after the deal was sealed in Delhi. The sources said Khaitan was also in touch with Guido Haschke, an Italian-American middleman hired by former Finmeccanica chief Orsi, now convicted by the Italian court.
Indian investigators are also collecting details about a meeting organised by Michel in Dubai after the deal was signed. Sources said another number, 9811****65, which is registered in the name of Khaitan, was used to contact Haschke’s number 41763****89 as latest as in 2012.
“We will confront Gautam Khaitan with these details. He was in touch with Michel and Gerosa as well as Haschke during the same period and it clearly establishes the missing link in the scam,” a source added.
Crucial evidence in the case, reviewed by Express, suggests that Michel and his front men made frequent visits to Delhi, Zurich and Dubai along with Haschke and Finmeccanica CEO Orsi, now jailed in the bribery scandal.
Pointing out Michel’s role in the deal, a source said he landed in Delhi on March 7, 2005, when operational requirements for VVIP helicopters were being discussed in the government. Michel, it is learnt, made another trip on April 20, 2005. He also made a trip to Delhi along with AgustaWestland officer Bruno Spagnolini, now convicted and sentenced for four years. Sources said though Michel left for Colombo on Sri Lankan Airlines-UL 192, Spagnolini went to Frankfurt the same day on Lufthansa flight number 755.
Michel’s close aide Haschke landed in Delhi on February 12, 2009, on Lufthansa flight number 762. The same day, then AgustaWestland CEO Orsi reached Delhi on Air France flight number AF 192 from Paris. “This was the time when the Contract Negotiation Committee of the Defence Ministry concluded its discussions with the vendor,” the sources said.
It has been revealed that Haschke was in Delhi when the field evaluation trial of the chopper was being conducted in the UK. He left for Dubai on February 5, 2008, by Emirates flight number 543. “It could be anybody’s guess that Haschke’s trip was to meet Michel,” the sources added.