CBI Lines Up Ev­i­dence Against Michel

Likely to bank on ‘fixer’ Haschke’s con­fes­sional state­ment & cal­lig­ra­pher’s re­port in Mi­lan court

The Economic Times - - Front Page - [email protected] times­group.com

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

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