The Supreme Court rejected a plea that sought an investigation into the role played by the media in the AgustaWestland probe on Friday. A plea was filed alleging that journalists were paid off Rs 50 crore to write in favour of the AgustaWestLand deal.
Since the scam broke out there have been allegations of some journalists in Delhi being paid off huge sums of money to back the deal. It was alleged that while one journalist was paid off Rs 5 crore another was taken on a junket by the chopper firm.
The payoffs in the AgustaWestland deal amounts to Rs 360 crore according to the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation. Out of the Rs 360 crore that was earmarked to bribe influential people, an amount of Rs 50 crore was set aside for the media alone.
While the Enforcement Directorate has learnt that an amount of Rs 28 lakh had been spent on a journalist and his wife, the ED is also looking into another transaction of Rs 5 crore that was paid off to one journalist.
Rs 50 crore payoff:
The ED has been hot on the trail of the Rs 50 crore that was spent by James Christian Michel the middleman in charge of handling the media. Documents which have been accessed by the Enforcement Directorate suggest that a large chunk of the Rs 50 crore was spent on a media junket to Italy.
The ED says that not all those who went on the junket were part of this scam. However, there are a few names we have with us who we suspect had ensured that the narrative in the news was in favour of AgustaWestland. There is a journalist for whom Michel had earmarked Rs 28 lakh. This looked like a suspicious transaction since the money was spent on the journalist's wife as well.
Another journalist has come under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate. The ED suspects that middlemen had paid off this journalist a sum of Rs 5 crore.