CBI Lines Up Evidence Against Michel
Likely to bank on ‘fixer’ Haschke’s confessional statement & calligrapher’s report in Milan court
New Delhi: The evidence of a calligrapher recorded in a Milan court and the confessional statement of another alleged ‘fixer’ who was Christian Michel’s partner are likely to play a pivotal role when CBI questions the deported ‘middleman’ on the disputed handwritten diaries, which famously contain referen- ces to “AP” and “Fam”, said people with direct knowledge of the matter.
In his plea bargain statement in the Italian court, Guido Ralph Haschke — the second alleged middleman in the chopper scandal apart from Michel — had said he had written the diaries at the latter’s instructions. Haschke, who turned approver in the case, said that since Michel was incapable of cursive handwriting (writing in which letters are joined together), he had penned the “budget sheet” at Michel’s “dictation”.
The disputed sheet assumes significance as BJP leaders have alleged that the acronyms “AP” and “Fam” refer to senior Congress leaders.
The so-called budget sheet detailed the alleged kickbacks paid through Michel to several higherups and politicians in India for bagging the VVIP chopper deal, as per CBI’s theory.
What may spell further trouble for Michel is the independent finding of a calligrapher in a Milan court. The calligrapher, after ascertaining Haschke’s claims, opined that Michel indeed had a problem with “joined up” handwriting. However, the calligrapher added in his report that Michel was capable of writing numbers and letters. This corroborated Haschke’s claims that Michel was incapable of cursive writing.
CBI will confront Michel with Haschke’s confessional statement in the Italian court, said people quoted above.
Haschke was given a lenient sentence by the Italian court after he agreed to turn approver. Michel has so far denied knowledge of the budget sheet, accusing Haschke of framing him for striking a deal with the Italian prosecutor as part of the plea bargain. The evidence of the calligrapher in the Milan court will also play a crucial role as CBI seeks to question Michel’s denial.
MICHEL ASSOCIATE UNDER SCANNER
Also under scanner is the role of Michel’s Mumbai-based associate JB Subramanian, who was appointed to type handwritten reports and information sent by Michel with regard to activities related to defence procurement. This includes updates on the procurement process of AgustaWestland helicopters, CBI said in its remand application submitted on Wednesday.
The agency claims that Subramanian, on behalf of Michel, used to send reports to persons connected with AgustaWestland, including Haschke, through fax.
The dispatch sheets were typed by Subramanian and addressed to Finmeccanica chief Giuseppe Orsi and the India head of AgustaWestland, Peter Hulet.
CBI has told the special court that Subramanian has confirmed sending reports and documents on developments related to the procurement process for the helicopters to AgustaWestland officials.
The dispatch sheets contain references to a number of contracts, pertaining to the defence sector, which Michel claimed to be negotiating. CBI claims these contracts are fake and were means to pay bribes. While Michel has not denied framing dispatch sheets pertaining to five “sham” contracts — which form an important part of CBI’s case — he has denied knowledge of the budget sheet. CBI has described the contracts as “sham”, used 12 times by Michel to receive over 42 million euros from Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland. The money was received in the accounts of two Dubai-based companies owned by him.
The said funds were allegedly used to pay kickbacks to officers in the Indian Air Force, defence ministry, bureaucrats and politicians during the UPA regime, CBI has claimed.
Haschke’s role in the scandal is significant as out of the two money trails — alleged kickbacks — one involves him and the other allegedly involves Michel.
CBI claims to have “significant leads” in probing the route of kickbacks from Haschke’s confessional statement. As per Indian law, Haschke’s confessional statement under the plea bargain agreement is admissible in courts here. Michel is currently being questioned by CBI, which obtained a five-day remand. He will be produced before the special CBI court on December 10. Meanwhile, CBI on Thursday said it has received a request for consular access to Michel from the British High Commission through the ministry of external affairs. The request is under process, the agency said.
Haschke was given a lenient sentence by the Italian court after he agreed to turn approver