Chopper scam: Willing to come to India and face probe, says AgustaWestland middleman Christian James Michel
Amid raging row over VVIP chopper scam, James Michel, the middleman in the AgustaWestland deal, has said that he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the matter.
Delhi: Amid raging row over VVIP chopper scam, James Michel, the middleman in the AgustaWestland deal, has said that he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the matter.
At the same time, he has claimed that he was willing to come to India to face the authorities, as per a media report.
Speaking to CNN-News18 over telephone from an undisclosed location in a foreign country, Michel was quoted as saying - "It's an exaggeration that my father Mr Wolfgang Michel was a close aide of the Gandhi family. From my own knowledge, I can say he was not very close. I also have never been in touch with any family member or any extended family member of the Gandhi family."
He also said - "I was performing many duties for the company, developing other programmes and I also had other businesses in India. I was developing my glass business. I was looking after charity there, had many activities. I liked the place. If I had nothing to do, I used to always go to India."
"We had no contract in 2006, what happened at the end of 2006 is that for the first time I met Mr Orsi, the then Chairman of AgustaWestland. In 2007 I went back for a meeting to explain Indian market, what is going on. The first thing I explained to him was that under the laws DPP you are not allowed to engage an agent. So I never had a contract to promote the VVIP," he added.
"Under Indian rules, if you buy directly from India, goods and services in your agreed offset term, you can get offset credit. This can be counted against your offset liability you can take on when you sign the contract. What I explained to Mr Orsi was that the contract that they have agreed with Mr Haschke gels to Tunisia and then to AgustaWestland. So it means AgustaWestland is not the contracting body. Therefore, it is not eligible for offset. So I said this is ridiculous, we should stop this, AgustaWestland should have a direct relationship," Michel said, adding, "I have never been in touch with any family member or the extended family member of the Gandhi family, not even once."
The supply of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland had come under scanner after Italian authorities alleged that bribes were paid by the company to clinch the Rs 3,600 crore deal.
It was subsequently cancelled.
The Italian prosecutor, who carried out the preliminary inquiry, alleged that the CEO of Finmeccanica, the parent company of the Britain-based AgustaWestland, had used services of middlemen to bribe Indian officials.