christian michel's extradition: cbi could shift focus from tyagi to bigger players

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According to Michel’s alleged bribery note, €30 million were to be distributed among Indian bureaucrats, politicians and Air Force officials to swing the chopper deal in favour of AgustaWestland. The CBI is expected to question Michel’s driver in India, who allegedly took money to some individuals and even received money via wire transfers

NEW DELHI: The CBI getting custody of British national Christian Michel, who lobbied for arms contracts for almost 25 years in India, is bound to create a sense of unease among the alleged “beneficiaries” in the defence ministry who were mentioned in his 2008 handwritten note.

Michel’s extradition also shifts the focus from former IAF chief S P Tyagi to bigger players, who were instrumental in swinging the Rs 3,727 crore deal in favour of Anglo-Italian firm – AgustaWestland.

According to Michel’s alleged bribery note, which is part of Italian court judgement, €30 million were to be distributed among Indian bureaucrats, politicians and Air Force officials.

Titled budget expenditure note, prepared some time in 2008 at Michel’s London office, used abbreviations of designations like 'DCH', 'PDSR', 'DG Maintt" and 'FTT' under the head AF (air force). Under the head ‘BUR’, it had entries like ‘DS’, ‘JS Air’, ‘AFA Air’, ‘DG Acq’, ‘CVC’ and ‘Auditor Gen’ and under the head ‘POL’, it had ‘AP’. The note had a separate entry ‘Fam’, believed to be S P Tyagi’s family – his three cousins Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep.

It mentioned that €6 million were for ‘AF’ (Air Force), €8.4 million for ‘BUR’ (bureaucrats), €3 million for ‘AP’ and €15-16 million for ‘Fam’.

Michel’s close aide Guido Haschke, who confirmed the contents of the note to Italian investigators, had claimed in court in Milan - “Michel pointed (to) me in this document what he said was his ‘budget’ for this operation, that is, the expenses that he would have incurred for this operation (chopper deal)”.

Haschke explained that AF meant ‘air force’, PDSR meant ‘Principal Director Air Staff’, FTT meant Flight Trial Team, DG Mainttmeant ‘DG Maintenance’, CVC meant Central Vigilance Committee (incorrectly used for Central Vigilance Commission), DG Acq meant Director General Acquisition, JS Air meant ‘Joint Secretary Air’, Fam meant “Tyagifamily” and AP corresponded to ‘AhmedPatel’ (Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s key aide).

The Italian court judgement in the case said that Haschke admitted to these expenses incurred by Michel on the Indian military, bureaucracy and politics.

CBI sources said they will question Michel’s driver in India for four years – Narayan Bahadur – who allegedly took money to some individuals in India and even received money via wire transfers.

Narayan, sources say, will be confronted with Michel for details of people he visited in Delhi.

CBI has claimed in its chargesheet filed in September last year that while final negotiations were under way in ministry of defence and Indian Air Force for supply of 12 VVIP choppers, Michel visited India on more than 25 occasions and had stayed in different hotels – Hotel Ashoka and Claridges at New Delhi and Hotel ITC Windsor – in Bangalore.

Sources have informed TOI that Michel used to visit India frequently. According to the investigators, it is suspected that Michel visited India around 100 times since 1993 and had links in defence ministry and political circles.

CBI has claimed that Michel was in possession of secret defence ministry files, including those of cabinet committee on security (CCS), when AgustaWestland’s case was being pushed by the IAF.

The central probe agency claims that it was Christian Michel who played a crucial role in eliminating M/s Sikorsky from the competition to get contract for supply of VVIP choppers.

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