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VVIP choppers: ED files fresh charge sheet in AgustaWestland deal

The charge sheet, delving specifically into the role of middleman Michel, Indian associates, in connection with its money laundering probe.

Published: 15th June 2016 04:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th June 2016 09:47 PM   |  A+A-

chopper-deal-scam_PTI

NEW DELHI: Enforcement Directorate has filed a supplementary charge sheet in connection with its investigation into the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal. The charge sheet has been filed against middle man Christian Michel James along with his shell company Media Exim Private Limited and its directors RK Nanda and JB Subramaniyam.

The agency has submitted over 1,300 page charge sheet, which is known as prosecution complaint by ED, before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court early this week. The court has not yet taken cognisance of the supplementary charge sheet.

After the court takes cognisance of the charge sheet against Michel,  the agency can expedite the process of extraditing him from the UK. “The charge sheet against an accused is necessary in order to execute the treaty between the two countries,” said an ED officer.

In the charge sheet, the agency has submitted  the details of alleged kick backs received by Michel -- an amount of Rs 6.33 crores was routed to India through his shell company namely Media Exim from his Dubai based company namely Global Services FZE in Dubai.

The payment of Rs 6.33 crores were by made by Michel from the funds which he got from AgustaWestland through criminal activity and corruption being done in the chopper deal that led to the subsequent generation of proceeds of crime.

The agency also gave the details on how RK Nanda and JB Subramaniyam were appointed as directors of Media Exim. “The duo willingly and knowingly connived with Michel and helped him in acquiring various immovable and moveable properties and assets in Delhi, which has already been attached by the Enforcement Directorate,” the agency said.

Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, apart from Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation. The agencies have also notified an Interpol Red Corner Notice against Michel after court issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

The agency, in the charge sheet, stated that the three middlemen managed to make inroads into the Indian Air Force in order to influence and subvert the stand of the air force regarding reducing the service ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000-meters to 4,500 meters in 2005 after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties.

The probe found that AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini was paying ‘kickbacks’ to Michel and the two other middlemen in the guise of numerous consultancy contracts and Michel alone received Euro 30 million in his Dubai company accounts and others under this arrangement.

This is the second charge sheet filed in the case by agency which goes into the detailed role of Michel in the deal, his multiple visits to India and his transactions. The first charge sheet was filed by the agency in the case in November, 2014.

The probe also found that Michel had hired a firm to provide to him from India an analysis of market publications related to manufacturing industry active in Indian defence arena, the economic and financial trends in the country and overall views on private sector participation in Indian defence and manufacturing industry.

India had signed the Rs 3,600 crore deal to acquire 12 three-engine AW-101 choppers from the Italian company for the services of VVIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister, in February 2010. Later allegations of corruption were levelled by Italian authorities.

The agency, probing the case, had named 13 individuals including a former IAF chief in the FIR as accused.

It had alleged that reduction of service ceiling-- maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally-- allowed AgustaWestland to come into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids. 

The contract for 12 AW-101 helicopters was signed in February 2010. Three helicopters were delivered in 2011 and 2012, and about 30 per cent of the money was paid.

In February 2013, reports surfaced alleging that two top officials of AgustaWestland’s Italian parent, defence manufacturer Finmeccanica, had paid bribes to bag the Indian contract. An Italian inquiry into the deal forced India to investigate it too.  The CBI started the probing the. In January 2014, the Ministry of Defence scrapped the contract for supply of 12 AW101 three-engine helicopters for VVIP use and freeze all payments.



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