NEW DELHI: The CBI today filed supplementary charge sheet in AgustaWestland scam against key middlemen Christian Michel James and Rajiv Saxena and others. The charge sheet details Michel’s role and bringing bribes for politicians, bureaucrats and IAF officials to ensure the contract was awarded to AgustaWestland.
Michel was extradited to India on December 4, 2018, from Dubai. The Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland had paid Rs 295 crore to him for bribing Indian politicians, bureaucrats and defence ministry personnel for swinging the deal for 12 VVIP choppers in its favour.
Michel had cultivated a wide network of sources in the Indian Air Force and defence ministry at different levels to clinch the deal in the firm’s favour as a middleman.
He is also accused of accessing highly sensitive procurement process files with the help of IAF and MoD officials and dispatching periodic reports on their developments to the accused persons linked to the firm.
He used to transmit the despatches through FAX to the other counterparts sitting abroad in Italy and Switzerland. Michel was controlling two other middlemen – Ralph Guido Huschke and Carlo Gerosa, as they had no specific knowledge in the specific sector of helicopters.
To carry out scouting and monitoring activities with regard to the acquisition of helicopters in India, a meeting was held in Cascina Costa, Italy during July, 2006, in which it was decided Michel will join Ralph Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, as he had immense knowledge of the Indian military operational mechanism.
The middlemen had negotiated 7 per cent of the supply contract amount to cover the expenses and fees of both of them.
Through his Global Trade and Commerce Ltd London and Global Services FZE, Dubai, UAE firms, Michel entered into 12 contracts with Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Westland Helicopters UK etc to legitimise the illicit commission on the procurement of the VVIP helicopters.
Finmeccanica paid a total Rs 295 crore approximately to the firms of Michel as bribe without undertaking any work against the receipt of such amount.
Michel had prepared a note in which alleged bribes worth 30 million euros meant for Indian politicians and bureaucrats were mentioned. The supplementary charge sheet also focuses on the joint operation of Michel and Rajiv Saxena in receiving and transferring the alleged kickbacks amounting to Rs 3,727 crore to government officials.
Saxena is a Dubai-based businessman extradited to India in January last year. He is a hawala operator and runs accommodation entry business in Dubai through Matrix Group and other companies. He also laundered proceeds of crime in the cases of AgustaWestland scam.
The charge sheet however does not name any politician or senior bureaucrat. The first charge sheet was filed in September 2017 naming former IAF chief SP Tyagi and others.
CBI, in its first charge sheet, had established Indians receiving around Rs 415 crore out of suspected Rs 452 crore total bribe paid by middlemen. This illegal contract, as per the agency officials, had led to an estimated loss of around Rs 2,666 crore to the Indian government in Rs 3726.9 crore contract.
In March this year, CBI had sought prosecution sanction against former defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, former Air vice marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar and three other IAF officers – deputy chief test pilot SA Kunte, wing commander Thomas Mathew and former group captain N Santosh,
However, it decided to file a charge sheet without naming them as the defence ministry is yet to give its sanction. A supplementary charge sheet will be filed against Sharma and others when the sanction is accorded, according to reports.