The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday filed a prosecution complaint – equivalent to a chargesheet – in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper scam case. The complaint focused on middleman Christian Michel and his associates in India, reported PTI. The chargesheet, filed in a special court that deals with cases related to Prevention of Money Laundering Act, stated that the British middleman took € 30 million (around Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland to bribe people and secure the defence ministry contract to provide 12 helicopters.
In the second chargesheet filed in the case, the agency said Michel hired a firm in India to get an analysis of market publications regarding the manufacturing industry in the defence sector, the economic and financial trends and the general opinion on private players in the country's defence and manufacturing industry. The first chargesheet was filed in November 2014.
The ED and the CBI have got an Interpol red corner notice issued against Michel, who is reportedly living in Dubai. The investigating agencies are also looking into roles played by two other middlemen – Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. According to the investigators, the three middlemen lobbied with Indian Air Force personnel and influenced the decision to reduce the service ceiling of the VVIP helicopters from 6,000-meters to 4,500 meters so that the chopper company could bag the contract.
Michel has denied allegations of being involved in the deal. Earlier, Michel's lawyer had said he was ready to come to India to face investigators if he was assured he would not be arrested.
The AgustaWestland helicopter deal, which has snowballed into a huge controversy, relates to an agreement in 2010, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was to buy 12 helicopters from the British-Italian firm. The deal was put on hold after Italy arrested the head of Finmeccanica on charges that the company paid kickbacks to win the contract. The CBI had registered a case against former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi and 13 others, including his three cousins and the European middlemen involved in the scam.