Agusta: ED names agent Michel in 2nd chargesheet

SansadTV Bureau
File Photo:  AgustaWestland (AW101) VVIP Airforce Helicopter.

File Photo: AgustaWestland (AW101) VVIP Airforce Helicopter.

Enforcement Directorate has filed a second charge sheet in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal naming British national and alleged middleman Christian Michel James, his two Indian associates and an Indian company for the first time in connection with its money laundering probe.

The 1,300 page prosecution complaint (ED’s equivalent for charge sheet) of the Enforcement Directorate(ED) was placed before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court here last week.

It has said that the agency’s investigation into the case has found that Michel allegedly received Euro 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from Ms AgustaWestland which was nothing but “kickbacks” paid by the firm to execute the deal for sale of 12 helicopters to India in favour of the firm in “guise of” of genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country.

The court is expected to soon take cognisance of the supplementary charge sheet, agency sources said today.

Apart from Michel, the agency has named Ms Media Exim Private Limited and its directors, R K Nanda and J B Subramaniyam in the charge sheet. The firm was created by Michel along with the two individuals.

Michel is one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, apart from Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the ED and the CBI. Both the agencies have also notified an Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) or the global arrest warrant against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

Michel was extensively interviewed by Indian media in Dubai recently and the agencies want him to join the probe.

The second charge sheet delves into the detailed role of Michel in the deal, his multiple visits to India and his transactions. The first charge sheet in the case was filed in November, 2014.

It is understood that filing a charge sheet against Michel was necessary as ED has sought his extradition from the UK and hence such a court complaint against an accused is necessary in order to execute the treaty between the two countries.

The agency has also brought on record, in the charge sheet, that the three middlemen “managed to” make inroads into the Indian Air Force in order to influence and subvert the stand of the air force regarding reducing the service ceiling–the altitude at which a helicopter can fly-of the helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres in 2005 after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties.

ED investigations have found that remittances made by Michel through his Dubai-based firm Ms Global Services, FZE to a media firm he floated in Delhi, along with two Indians, were made from the funds which he got from Ms AgustaWestland SpA through “criminal activity” and corruption being done in the chopper deal that led to the subsequent generation of proceeds of crime.