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AgustaWestland Row: Evidence in hand, CBI grills middlemen

Khaitan, who had earlier admitted to floating shell companies, made 17 trips to Zurich between 2009 to 2012.

Published: 12th May 2016 04:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th May 2016 04:21 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: THE CBI probing into Rs 3600-crore VVIP Chopper deal confronted shadowy operators Praveen Bakshi and alleged middleman Gautam Khaitan with clinching evidence gathered during the investigation.

According to sources, Gautam Khaitan, who had earlier admitted to floating shell companies, made 17 trips to Zurich between 2009 to 2012. The visits before and after the AgustaWestland chopper deal was to meet Guido Haschke, the Swiss middleman who lives in Lugano, which has a small domestic airport but all international flights operate from Zurich. Similarly, Praveen Bakshi, who was operating a shell company, Aeromatrix, to camouflage slush funds made four trips to Zurich between 2011 to 2012.  

Sources confirmed that Bakshi made a trip to Milan, Italy in 2006 when Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued to 6 vendors including AgustaWestland. He made another trip to Milan in 2007 months before the field evaluation trial of AgustaWestland was carried out in UK. 

Sources said Bakshi and Khaitan were also confronted with details of foreign trips when the deal between AgustaWestland and the Centre was at a crucial stage.

It is learnt that Khaitan left for Dubai on May 25, 2008 while Bakshi left for Amsterdam. Sources said Bakshi and Khaitan were grilled about a trip together to Munich in October 2008 when Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) of Defence Ministry was carrying out discussions with the vendor.

Sources confirmed that Bakshi and Khaitan returned together on October 16, 2008 by Lufthansa Flight 762. Bakshi was also questioned about his trip to Dubai on November 20, 2010 when the deal was signed with AgustaWestland.

The British Middleman in the deal Christian Michel lives in Dubai and played a key role in swinging the deal in favour of Italian Company.

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