With Michel in India, a fully paid junket to Italy comes back under the scanner
New Delhi, Dec 5: When the investigations into the AgustaWestland scam peaked in 2016, several names tumbled out. They included, politicians, bureaucrats, Air Force officials and journalists.
Now with the extradition of alleged middleman, James Christian Michel to India from Dubai, several of these aspects would be looked into by the CBI. Several journalists alleged to have received kickbacks continue to be under the scanner of the CBI.
There are a few journalists on our radar, a CBI official had told OneIndia. A team was in fact taken on a junket to Italy by Finmeccanica the firm which produces the AgustaWestland chopper. It was a fully paid trip.
Further some journalists may have received kickbacks to change the narrative and also hand over information to Michel on what story would be playing out on the deal, the officials felt.
The CBI official said that they will question some of these journalists as part of the investigation. There was a group of journalists who were taken to Italy in 2013 on a junket. This was arranged by Michel, the CBI also says.
Further there were some who had passed on information on the type of story that would run on the deal and we are looking to question them to find out about their intent.
The journalists who were in touch with Michel will help unearth more information relating to the case. Michel was paid a sum of Rs 330 crore by AgustaWestland to manage the media The CBI had got a red corner notice issued against Michel. We are planning on seeking his extradition, the CBI says.
Michel was a middleman hired by AgustaWestland. His main job was to keep an eye on the media in India and report the narrative regarding the deal to AgustaWestland.
We have some evidence on him which includes the reports he sent out and also the meetings he held with some people in the media, officials also add.
An amount of Rs 330 crore was paid to him for managing various services. He received these amounts in part payments at United Kingdom, the British Virgin Islands and also Tunisia. In addition to his links with the media, the CBI has also found that he had several assets (benami) in India.
A bungalow in Delhi and a luxury car is what the CBI has found and officials say that he had purchased this in a benami name. We are on the trail to find out more such assets in India, the CBI officer also informed.
While his meetings with several persons are under the scanner, the CBI has learnt that it was through his company Global Services FZE all his activities were managed. Through this company he managed to keep an eye on the media reports where this deal was concerned. If there was any negative press on the deal, Michel was meant to fix it, the CBI officials also say.