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AgustaWestland Scam: Christian Michel named 'Mrs Gandhi', 'son of Italian lady' in probe, ED tells court

BusinessToday.In     December 29, 2018

The alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, Christian Michel, named one 'Mrs Gandhi' during his interrogation, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has claimed. The counsel representing the probe agency stated this before the Patiala House Court on Sunday while seeking eight-day custody of Michel. The court extended Michel's custody to ED for another week.

The ED lawyer told the court that Michel said he was in touch with one Mrs Gandhi and "the son of the Italian lady" and how he is going to become "the next prime minister of the country", which might refer to Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The counsel, however, did not clarify who were the individuals Michel mentioned while in ED custody.

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The ED counsel also claimed that Michel has told the agency how HAL was removed from deal to be replaced by Tata. The agency also asked that Michel's lawyer should not be allowed to meet him, claiming that he was being "tutored from outside". The ED told the court that Michel handed over a piece of paper to his lawyer Aljo K Joseph during yesterday meeting, which when checked had questions about Sonia Gandhi asked during the interrogation.

The 57-year-old Michel is a British national and an established arms dealer who allegedly helped AgustaWestland - owned by Italian defence company Finmeccanica (now Leornado) - to bag the February 2010 deal for 12 AW101 choppers, mainly meant for VVIP use. The Enforcement Directorate's charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, accusing him of receiving 30 million euros or about Rs 225 crore from the helicopter manufacturer for bribing Indian bureaucrats, politicians and Indian Air Force officials.

His diaries, seized by the Italian police and later handed over to the CBI, reveal that he might have paid six million euros to Indian Air Force (IAF) officers, 8.4 million to bureaucrats in addition to 15-16 million to an unidentified political family.

Edited by Vivek Punj

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