AgustaWestland chopper deal: No bilateral meeting between PM Modi, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi at UNGA, says MEA

Ministry of External Affairs clarified on Wednesday vthat there was no bilateral meeting between Prime Minster Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart at UNGA in September 2015.

Updated: Apr 27, 2016, 19:53 PM IST

Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs clarified on Wednesday that there was no bilateral meeting between Prime Minster Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi at UNGA in September 2015.

MEA also said, "Various cases under Prevention of Corruption Act, PMLA pursued against James Christian Michel (Agusta deal middleman) by India."

The ministry was reacting to allegations by James Christian Michel, the middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, on purported meeting between Modi and Renzi where the Indian leader offered to free two Italian marines, facing murder charges in India, in exchange of evidence linking Sonia Gandhi and her family to the corruption in the Rs 3600 crore deal.

"Insofar as James Christian Michel is concerned, various law enforcement authorities of India are proceeding against him in cases relating to the Prevention of Corruption Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)," the ministry said.

It also noted that an open ended non-bailable arrest warrant has been issued by the special judge of CBI against Michel on September 24, 2015.

"Upon a CBI request a Red notice against him has been issued by the Interpol Headquarters on November 25, 2015. A request for provisional arrest for the purpose of extradition was made to the UK authorities on January 4, this year by the CBI. The Enforcement Directorate, another autonomous agency to handle private money laundering and foreign exchange irregularities, has also separately sent a Red Corner notice seeking arrest and a request for his extradition from the UK on February 29, this year," it added, as per PTI.

Meanwhile, executing its plan, the BJP today sought to drag Sonia Gandhi into the controversial Rs.3,600 VVIP AugustaWestland chopper deal with its newly-nominated MP Subramanian Swamy taking her name that caused a huge ruckus in the Rajya Sabha as Congress members stormed the well of the House and paralysed it for an hour.

Hitting back, Gandhi rejected the allegations against her and party leaders as "false and baseless" and calling them as an attempt at "character assassination". 

She asserted she was "not afraid" of being "cornered" on  the issue.

"We have nothing to hide. Let them (government) take my name, I am not afraid of anyone because there is no base to that allegation. They amount to calumny. Where is the proof? They are lying. This is part of their (BJP's) strategy of character assassination," Gandhi told the media.

She said any investigation must get over as soon as possible so that the facts are out. "The allegations are baseless. The truth will come out soon."

She asked why the Narendra Modi government did not investigate the deal in the last two years since coming to power.

"All the accusations they are levelling at us are false. The government is there for last two years. What are they doing? The inquiry is there, why don't they complete it. Complete it as soon as possible impartially. The truth will come out," she added, as per IANS.

The controversial deal and the alleged bribes to the tune of Rs.360 crore paid in clinching it rocked the Rajya Sabha against the backdrop of an Italian court citing handwritten references to Gandhi, her political secretary Ahmed Patel and former Air Chief SP Tyagi by a middleman in a judgement that convicted the helicopter company's chief executive.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar joined the row asking the Congress to show the order of the UPA government blackmailing AugustaWestland, a stance the party has taken ever since the controversy broke out.

Today's drama began with Swamy, bete noire of the Gandhi family who took oath as a nominated member only yesterday, began his new innings raking up the chopper deal and sought to drag Gandhi's name during the Zero Hour soon after the House met for the day.
 
(With Agency inputs)