New Delhi, Dec 5 (IECurrentAffairs) Political storm is on cards and this could be slowly linked to battle in
poll-bound Rajasthan and Telangana and subsequent parliamentary polls next year as 54-year-old
Christian Michel, who brokered the deal, has been brought to India.
“Christian Michel James will be examined with respect to his involvement and confronted with documents recovered during raids by Swiss Authorities and received by CBI that show bribes paid by Michel were to secure the contract for supply of VVIP helicopters,” a BJP source said.
The role of Michel in setting up a series of shell companies to “move illegal money outside India” would also be examined, say sources in the ruling dispensation and point out how none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi has time and again spoken publicly about the role of ‘shell companies’ in various high-profile corruption cases.
This case will be double-edged sword against Congress as the law could catch up with a senior politician and also that it could isolated the grand old party from other opposition parties trying to come up together in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a BJP source told UNI.
CBI and ED probes found that a particular Delhi firm – perhaps a shell company – was used to launder the proceeds from deal.
BJP sources said, during the trial court proceedings in Italy, it was implied that Michel shared ‘proximity’ to a senior Gujarat politician.
Sources said 54-year-old Michel was among the alleged middlemen who brokered the deal and bribed “officials and politicians” to swing the contract in favour of AgustaWestland, the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica.
The notings about ‘payments’ against code words such as ‘family’ and “Bur” had surfaced earlier indicating about alleged links to top bureaucrats in India and also a particular political family.
Sources also speak about Michel buying and selling ‘a string of properties in Delhi including a farmhouse in Chhatarpur’ also that cash packets were delivered to various people through Michel’s trusted aides and a driver.
“It is a serious case…where various attempts were made to delay and derail the probe.
A very legitimate question arose because of the highly suspicious circumstances surrounding
‘inaction’ on the case in 2012-13 under the UPA and also the fact that had the company’s Italian connection something to do about it,” a source said.
There has been a series of reports about involvement of Indian middle man as well some of whom were very close to a former Air Chief.
Sources also said in its charge sheet, the CBI had named former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie, then IAF Vice Chief J S Gujral and one Gautam Khaitan as the four Indians involved in the scam.
In November 2015, a Red Corner Notice (RCN) was issued against Michel by the Interpol on a request by the CBI.
Red Corner Notices were also issued against two Italians involved in the scam – Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke.
Michel’s involvement cannot be denied easily, a source said pointing out that his sister Sasha Ozeman has also in the past “made public statements” pertaining to the involvement of Michel.
“He was a frequent visitor to India and was operating as a middleman for defence procurements through a wide network of sources cultivated in the Indian Air Force and the Ministry of Defence including a few retired officers,” a source said.
However, for his part, Michel has denied his involvement as well as that of top Congress leaders and in a media interview has said: “Both Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke have been let off by the Indian government because there was an agreement between Prime Minister Modi and former Italian Prime Minister (Matteo) Renzi”.
But BJP sources link Congress party into ‘various media interviews’ given by Michel too. According to them, son of a senior politician had tried to coordinate Michel with Indian media wherein the British national had time and again targeted the Modi government for ‘trying’ to fix Congress leaders in the case.