Agusta: CBI, ED Mount Ag­gres­sive Hunt for Michel

Chop­per co had tasked now-fugi­tive Brit with man­ag­ing In­dian me­dia

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

Manu Pubby & Rahul Tripathi

New Delhi: Chris­tian Michel, the Bri­tish na­tional sought by In­dia in con­nec­tion with the probe into the Agus­taWest­land deal, is now be­ing ag­gres­sively pur­sued, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said. Michel had been tasked by Agusta to man­age the In­dian me­dia as the deal pro­gressed. Michel, who had been paid .₹ 330 crore by Agus­taWest­land for var­i­ous ser­vices, as per the Mi­lan Court of Ap­peals judge­ment, was never ques­tioned in per­son by Ital­ian in­ves­ti­ga­tors. In­dia had got a red cor­ner In­ter­pol no­tice is­sued against him.

Of­fi­cials from both Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion and En­force­ment Direc­torate said there are new leads in the case.

CBI of­fi­cials told ET the agency has now re­ceived a full re­ply to let­ters roga­tory sent to Italy.

CBI has also re­ceived par­tial replies from Tu­nisia, Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands and the United King­dom. Th­ese are also the places CBI says are pos­si­ble des­ti­na­tions for the money re­ceived by Michel from Agusta.

CBI of­fi­cials said they are bet­ter in­formed now on Michel but did not wish to give out de­tails of the cur­rent in­ves­ti­ga­tion. They, how­ever, said Michel was “most likely” in the UK and not Dubai, as he him­self has claimed.

The agency dis­missed re­ports that Michel has of­fered to de­pose be­fore In­dian agen­cies. Of­fi­cials said it “wasn’t true” that Michel had made such an of­fer to the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice in a let­ter. “He needs to ap­proach us,” an of­fi­cial said.

ED, for its part, is on to what its in­ves­ti­ga­tors say are Michel’s ‘be­nami’ prop­er­ties in In­dia. The agency has iden­ti­fied and at­tached prop­er­ties be­long­ing to a com­pany. As­sets in­clude a flat in Delhi’s posh Saf­dar­jung En­clave area, a lux­ury car and a fixed de­posit of .₹ 54 lakh, ED of­fi­cials said. Ef­forts are on to iden­tify and at­tach more as­sets linked to Michel, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

In­ter­est­ingly, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments seized by Ital­ian pros­e­cu­tors, which ET has re­viewed, Michel was re­quired by Agusta to man­age the me­dia in In­dia. The Bri­tish na­tional was tasked by the Ital­ian com­pany to give feed­back on In­dian me­dia ac­tiv­ity on the deal. Michel’s firm, Global Ser­vices FZE, was to “in­form the com­pany (Agusta) of any hos­tile press ac­tiv­ity that may im­pact on the ex­e­cu­tion of the con­tract”.

While Michel was iden­ti­fied as one of the main ac­cused by Ital­ian pros­e­cu­tors, he could not be fully in­ves­ti­gated as he resided in Dubai and was a Bri­tish na­tional. While the Ital­ian pros­e­cu­tors es­tab­lished that he re­ceived a to­tal of .₹ 330 crore from Agusta, they could not de­ter­mine where this money went to or how it was spent.

On the other hand, the money trail from Guido Hashke, who resided in Switzer­land, was es­tab­lished by the court to the Tyagi broth­ers as his busi­ness es­tab­lish­ments in Italy and Switzer­land were raided. Be­sides, Haschke and his as­so­ciates were se­cretly taped by in­ves­ti­ga­tors when­ever they trav­elled in Italy.

Such an in­ves­ti­ga­tion could not be car­ried out on Michel’s com­pa­nies as he was out­side the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Ital­ian au­thor­i­ties.

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