AgustaWestland scam: Middlemen Christian Michel, 2 others chargesheeted by ED

Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against Christian Michel James and two other middlemen.

Updated: Jun 16, 2016, 00:28 AM IST
AgustaWestland scam: Middlemen Christian Michel, 2 others chargesheeted by ED

New Delhi: In a major development in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against Christian Michel James and two other middlemen.

Christian Michel James is allegedly the key middleman in the controversial AgustaWestland chopper deal.

Michel, has been accused by the CBI and the ED of working at the behest of AgustaWestland and its parent Italian major Finmeccanica.

He has been accused of routing funds to India meant to bribe officials.

He had asserted that he never met Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and that he is ready to be questioned by Indian investigators, as he wants to clear his name.

Earlier this month, the ED reportedly conducted searches on the premises in the city of Suraj Prakash Mehra, a businessman who was allegedly in contact with Christian Michel.

Earlier, ED had summoned some Indian contacts of British national Christian Mitchel in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal.

Officials said few people involved in creating an overseas firm with Mitchel have been called by the agency to record their statements under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) this week.

The agency, sources said, wants to understand the "financial relationship" of at least three people who had created an offshore entity with Mitchel, approximately around the same time when the 12 choppers deal was being finalised and was in final stages of execution.

They said prima facie there are no allegations of wrong doing against the individuals, who live in the United Kingdom, but it is important for it to ascertain their role with Mitchel against whom an Interpol arrest warrant is pending.

He is amongst the three alleged middle men being probed in the case by the ED and CBI both.

ED had registered a PMLA case in this regard in 2014 and named 21 people including former Indian Air Force Chief S P Tyagi in its money laundering FIR.

It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan and had also filed a charge sheet last year.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanicas British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.