Christian Michel was extradited from Dubai as the most high-profile suspect in the alleged bribery scam involving the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal. Since then, he has been engaged in a legal battle with investigative agencies to get bail and has refused to provide further documentary evidence.
Michel claims, records show, that the VVIP helicopter deal with the Italian defense firm was almost canceled due to pressure from the Americans and Russians (the American firm Sikorsky’s S-92 helicopters and the Russian Mi-172 AugustaWestland were competitors ) as well as the Finance Ministry’s objections which it calls “stupid” and “stupid”.
The inquiry report reveals the frantic efforts of middlemen and diplomats – in a rare case, it was presented twice to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
For example, in August 2009, Michel claimed in a dispatch from New Delhi to AgustaWestland headquarters: “We had to involve practically the entire cabinet which is ridiculous on such a small deal.” Asked about this dispatch, Michel told Indian investigators that it was British diplomats who said so because of their “interference” and that it may have been “exaggerated for effect”.
Following diplomatic pressure in mid-2009, Michel wrote, in a dispatch to his bosses, that the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had asked his cabinet ministers to put down any objections to the deal. Aware that this could put a question mark on the deal itself, Michel wrote in a letter to his mentors: “We know that the Indian Prime Minister opened this business to all ministers … to me. What happened was a nightmare… the statement (of the prime minister) handed us over to the wolves…”
In another dispatch, he wrote: “Our project was on the edge of a cliff. None of the so-called backers (agents) who offered help had any idea what the problem was and how to fix it. Me. It seems we are the only ones who even knew that our file had already gone to CCS once.
India canceled the AgustaWestland contract in 2014, once the bribery scandal surfaced.
Michel was accused of receiving alleged bribes of 42 million euros through his Dubai-based companies, and extradited to India on December 4, 2018.
Thereafter, his custodial interrogation was conducted by the ED for two weeks between December 22, 2018 and January 5, 2019. Since then, ED officials have questioned him several times in Tihar Jail till the end of 2020.
Through all of this, the British citizen is expanding in his early stages in the arms business as directed by his father, Wolfgang Mitchell; the deals he made; and the political and diplomatic turmoil over the VVIP chopper deal.
But he has also cited “pressure” to deny key evidence in the bribery scandal. And despite repeated interrogations in Tihar Jail, he is yet to submit the necessary corroborative evidence and important banking details.
During a round of initial inquiries in January 2019, Michel explained his failure to provide financial details: “I am not obstructing. He (a reference to an accountant or banker) is not satisfied whether I am under pressure. The more I insist on bank statements, the more people protest. I need to explain what I want, in a controlled environment, not in a panic…”
or other expenses such as the school fees of his children and the purchase of furniture. He has also listed six properties he has bought in Dubai, Germany, London and Brazil, mostly after the helicopter deal.
When asked whether he received a “kickback” of between 7-10 percent of the deal value, while the second middleman, Guido Haschke, received 5 percent, Mitchell told the interrogators: “This would mean that the entire deal would have a maximum of 15 percent.” Per cost. Percentage commission. No western producer could bear that much figure. Anyway, AgustaWestland thought they were losing money. I was not given the commission. Nobody has a figure in mind… “
He continued: “If I was paid a commission, and not me, why was I paid more, even twice as much as Haske. He would never accept it…”
The key in the denials by the middleman are about the “budget-sheet” of alleged bribes paid for the deal, first reported by The Indian Express. The sheet was recovered by Swiss police from the house of Guido Haschke’s mother, Irma Haschke.
Confronted with the sheet, Michele explained that Haschke told the Italian authorities probing the deal that he (Michel) had dyslexia, but still claimed that he took the last paragraph he described as a “share split note”. wrote. (Yesterday: the “aggression” of the Americans and how the Russians saw it as a “necessary deal”)