AuguataWesland deal: Christian Michel revelations so far
New Delhi : In a breaking exposure, media exposed Christian James Michel, 57-year-old British arms dealer who allegedly helped AgustaWestland to bag the February 2010 deal for 12 AW101 choppers, mainly meant for VVIP use. An Enforcement Directorate chargesheet included the name of Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and one "Mrs Gandhi" linked to the deal.
The Enforcement Directorate’s latest chargesheet claims that Christian Michel, a key accused in AuguataWesland deal, in his statement under Section 50 of PMLA, “admitted hiring services of Guy Douglas to influence the media” and “tone down” the coverage. In connection with the case, the chargesheet also mentioned the name of journalists Manu Pubby and Shekhar Gupta
The chargesheet quotes Michel: “I engaged a full-time press adviser Guy Douglas to have at least our side reported. The most aggressive journalist was Manu Pubby (then with The Indian Express)…Guy Douglas’s first task was to meet Manu Pubby and see if he was willing to listen to our side of the story.”
Michel, being probed by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) was arrested in February 2017 by UAE authorities after CBI allegedly sent an extradition request. After his arrest, Michel, through his sister and lawyer, made a sensational revelation that he had met former Congress president Sonia Gandhi when the deal was being negotiated in 2010. He also said that he refused to sign the confession as he had never met Sonia Gandhi in his life. He also alleged that the CBI had promised him a clean-chit in the case if he signs the confession.
However, CBI denied the allegations. The organisation said, “Christian Michel James was arrested in February 2017 by UAE. He was not arrested this year as claimed by the defence lawyer. CBI team has not examined the fugitive Christian Michel James nor has it influenced him to extract a confession. The extradition proceedings against the fugitive are going on in UAE and the request for the extradition is being followed up.”
Coming to the present day chargesheet, it revealed several facts including the alleged role of former Air Chief S P Tyagi in the selection process; the seized notes with middlemen that mentioned initials including ‘Fam’ and ‘AP’ and the entire money trail that connected lawyer Gautam Khaitan to the case.
The Gandhi family name has been dragged into the case following the recovery of a hand-written note from the possession of another middleman, Guido Haschke, where certain payment was mentioned against the word “family”.
The exposed facts of AuguataWesland deal might put Congress in trouble. Especially, a negative impression of the party might led to the poor collection of votes in the coming Lok Sabha polls.