AgustaWestland: Michel disguised kickbacks as consultancy fees
New Delhi, Dec 21: The Central Bureau of Investigation which questioned alleged AgustaWestland middleman, James Christian Michel has said that his claims of payments are false.
The payment claims were nothing but a cover up for kickbacks and commissions paid to accomplices, the CBI further said. In its remand application last week, the CBI said that the alleged recipients who were questioned and denied receiving any money from Michel.
The submission comes in the wake of Michel claiming that he had paid 6.2 million Euros to 18 companies and individuals in India and abroad for consultancy and other services.
For the CBI, he has been a hard nut to crack. He has not been cooperative and very often misguided the agency. The other issue faced by the CBI is that Michel has not given any information on the abbreviations that have been used by him. During the course of the probe several notes had been examined in which abbreviations such as FAM, POL, CAF and CM were used.
While FAM refers to family, the CBI feels that CAF stands for Chief of Air Force. It may be recalled that the CBI had accused former IAF chief, S P Tyagi of receiving kickbacks in the deal.
On the money that Michel claimed to have paid, the CBI questioned two of the recipients of the consultancy charges. Both claimed before the CBI that the claims were false. The CBI told the court that the kickbacks were paid in the guise of consultancy charges. When asked about it, Michel, misled the investigators, the CBI also contended.
To make its point, the CBI also said that Michel had made over 300 trips to India between 1996 and 2013. However after one of the co-accused, Guiseppe Orsi in Italy on February 12 2013, Michel did not make one trip after that.
The CBI said that since his role in deal became public, he left India and never returned. The CBI asked, why was Michel running, if he was really a clean man.
The defence however argued that Michel had fully cooperated and supplied all documents. The defence also said that the CBI was carrying out the proceedings against Michel with the same facts and accusations that the Italian court had seen before acquitting him.
The CBI however countered this argument and said that Michekl had not joined the investigation or faced trial in Italy. The judgment that he is speaking about is related to some other persons, the CBI also argued.
The CBI also said that the accused had links in the ministries, with people in politics, the bureaucracy.
The CBI also said Michel was negotiating on behalf of Augusta Westland, and during such negotiations got crucial confidential information about the progress of procurement process of VVIP helicopters from "IAF and MoD (Ministry of Defence)" through his sources. It was stated that he passed these information to other middlemen and senior management of Augusta Westland.