Two weeks and James Michel hasn’t sung as yet: Game still on says CBI
New Delhi, Dec 19: He was expected to sing in custody and put out the big names in public domain. However for the Central Bureau of Investigation, which has James Christian Michel the alleged middleman in the AugustaWestland case, the case is tougher than it may have appeared to be.
It has been almost two weeks since he was extradited to India. The CBI has managed to get his custody on two occasions, but till date, nothing concrete has come up. Lodged in the CBI's guesthouse at its headquarters, Michel has remain mum most of the time.
A volley of questions regarding the alleged pay offs and his political contacts in India have so far yielded no results. He denied any wrongdoing and when asked about the payments that were made to swing the chopper deal, he said it was the company and not he who had made it.
The CBI has been trying to crack some of the coded language that were used in a letter said to be written by Michel. In the letter written to Peter Hulet, the then India region sales and liaison head of AgustaWestland, there are references made to Pol, AP and Fam.
The letter suggests that kickbacks were paid for 'Pol,' 'AP' and 'Fam.' This speaks about a total kickback of 16 million Euros that was paid. Further the note also says that bureaucrats in the government be allowed 8.4 million Euros and for the Air Force officials 6 million Euros be given.
Michel when asked about this denied knowledge of the same. He said that the CBI should instead ask Guido Haschke about it. The more interesting question is about the code word Fam, which investigators say refer to family. There are two arguments about the word Fam in public domain. While the first one is that it stands for the Gandhi family, the other is that it refers to the Tyagi family.
A CBI official part of the investigation when contacted by OneIndia confirmed that Michel indeed is a hard nut to crack. He does not give straight answers and looks to dodge questions or misguide us. This is an old tactic that has been used by many. The idea is to either not say anything or try and divert the investigation. He made references to the other middleman Haschke on several occasions in a bid to divert attention. He has remained tight lipped about the alleged dealings and claims that he did no wrong.
The official also said that his intention is to drag in several other names so as to reduce the focus on him. He would want to continue doing so until he is either sent to judicial custody or granted bail.
When asked if this is the end of the road for the probe, the officer said that there are other ways to build up the case. Many high profile accused often take advantage of their status and do not speak. In such cases, we tell the court that the person is not cooperating and seek further custody. If he continues to dodge questions, then the case is built up on circumstantial evidence.
The Italian court judgment speaks clearly about the role Michel played in the deal. We can club that and the findings from our own investigation and build up the case. Following this, we will file a chargesheet against him and put him for trial, the officer further added.
While opposing his bail application today, the CBI said that Michel's reach is so wide and he is so influential that he could try and tamper with the evidence. He was making efforts to run away from Dubai, just before his extradition, the CBI also contended.
Michel's counsel on the other hand said that the CBI has questioned him five times in Dubai and for 15 days in Delhi. He is suffering from Dyslexia and he has been asked to write in cursive writing, the counsel also submitted.