AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel's local driver in Delhi has provided some vital leads to investigators looking into the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper scam, reported PTI. Officials said Narayan Bahadur has divulged important information about Michel's contacts to the Enforcement Directorate investigators who have been questioning him for the past few days. Michel allegedly managed political parties and stakeholders in Italy and India to ensure safe passage for the deal.
According to the report, Bahadur, who worked for Michel for four years, ferrying him around Delhi during his visits to India, received money through global wire fund transfer services until recently. The probe agency is looking into it as the information might help them locate the current operations and activities of Michel. Interpol has issued a red corner notice against the British national, after the CBI and ED approached them.
ED sleuths recently found some documents, phones and a few other things after searching Bahadur's premises. They believe the new information could help them establish Michel's link to the scam. The agencies are planning to send a team to a few overseas locations to track the money trail.
The multi-crore scam resurfaced after an Italian court recently observed that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government refused to share crucial documents with investigators and displayed "substantial disregard" in arriving at the full truth in the case. The order said Tyagi allegedly brought down the flying ceiling of the choppers – the maximum height at which a helicopter can function normally – from 6,000m to 4,500m so AgustaWestland could be included in the bids, without which its helicopters were not qualified to submit tenders. His cousins and the middlemen helped him in the process, the order said.
The UPA had signed an agreement with AgustaWestland to buy 12 helicopters to transport VVIPs. However, the deal fell through following reports in Italy that the company had bribed Indian officials to get the deal. The CBI began its investigation into the case in 2013.