-Mohammad Mansoor Alam
Christian James Michel is a British national and wanted by Indian authorities in connection with the Agusta-Westland chopper scam. He was extradited from UAE late on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), one of the two agencies investigating the alleged scam (the other being the Enforcement Directorate, or ED), got custody of Michel for five days.
According to the CBI, Michel was allegedly hired by Agusta Westland to influence people – including politicians, officials and even journalists. He, along with two other middlemen, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke, are accused of bribing people to secure the deal for Agusta-Westland.
The CBI has alleged that Michel’s companies received Rs 295 crore from Finmeccnica, the parent company of AgustaWestland helicopter.
Michel inherited an arms business from his father, Wolfgang Michel, who was involved in several arms deals with India in the 1970s and 80s .
Why is BJP excited about Michel’s extradition?
Since Michel was extradited to India by the CBI, PM Modi in his rally has been using him to target Congress leadership.
“Secrets will be told and the entire family is shivering,” he said a day after Michel was extradited from Dubai.
Modi who addressed rallies in Sumerpur in Pali district and in Dausa in Rajasthan alleged that the Gandhi family had been enjoying privileges for four generations and said the government’s win in the apex court on Tuesday was the victory of the honest. He was referring to the Supreme Court’s order of reopening IT cases against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
“He (Michel) served politicians and will now disclose secrets. Let us see how far this goes,” the prime minister said.
“The entire family is shivering. The raazdar (one who hides secrets) will speak up and they do not know whose name he will disclose. It was a matter of thousands of crore so they are in a state of panic,” he said.
A diary recovered during raids conducted by Swiss authorities in 2012 – at Guido Haschke’s home – contained handwritten notes which had acronyms and amounts.
Haschke, who later struck a deal with prosecutors, claimed that even though the handwriting belonged to him, Christian Michel dictated the note.
The BJP, which was then in opposition, alleged that acronyms such as AP and Family represented Congress leader Ahmed Patel and the Nehru-Gandhi family.
So far, Michel has maintained that the diary recovered from Switzerland was forged by Guido Haschke, and that top UPA leaders were in no way involved in the deal.
If Christian Michel turns an approver and changes his stand, it will directly incriminate the Congress party’s top leadership.
However, Michel has already given the story a twist by claiming that he was offered a deal to incriminate Sonia Gandhi for his freedom.
Anyway, extradition of Michel is being seen as a diplomatic victory of Modi and his party may use to pacify attacks related to Rafale deal on the government which has been talk of the town.