Michel signed ‘sham contracts’ to cover path of Agusta kickbacks: ED

SEVERAL “SERVICE contracts” signed between British intermediary Christian Michel and his major shopper AgustaWestland have been “sham contracts” to camouflage alleged kickbacks from the Rs 3,600-crore helicopter deal in India, in response to paperwork submitted in courtroom by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

In its prosecution criticism, the company mentioned that these have been meant to “create a legal facade and to route the kickbacks” beneath these agreements. And “create a smokescreen” between these contracts and the chopper buy making it arduous to trace the payoff path.

Michel’s interrogation report, accessed by The Indian Express, particulars his model of those offers, and his turbulent profession graph in India — from his father Wolfgang Michel’s assist to start out in 1985 to how he nearly shut store after the Pokhran checks of 1998; from signing up for the VIP helicopter deal in 2006 to lastly clinching it in 2010.

The report reveals the distrust between Michel and Guido Haschke, the opposite alleged intermediary for AgustaWestland, and the admission that his offers with the Italian firm made up 80 per cent of his Dubai agency’s income. Michel informed investigators that the AgustaWestland controversy grounded a number of of his plans in India, together with a proposed three way partnership with the Tatas.

December 4, 2021, marked three years since Michel was extradited from Dubai. Other key findings from the interrogation report have been reported by The Indian Express over the previous two days: Michel’s claims about how he lobbied with the then UPA Government to salvage the chopper deal that was sealed in 2010 and about an intervention by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The report additionally reveals that on December 26, 2018, Michel informed investigators that he was launched to Haschke within the AgustaWestland boardroom in Italy. “I had heard that Haschke was claiming that he managed the reduction in the height (which was one of the specifications) through his contacts….he stated that his contacts were the Tyagi brothers,” Michel mentioned, referring to former IAF chief SP Tyagi, who served a jail time period within the case, and his cousin Julie Tyagi.

On his offers with AgustaWestland, information present that Michel admitted to signing a put up contract service settlement for the VIP choppers, including that the Ministry of Defence was not knowledgeable about it — at the very least until the deal was signed.

According to Michel, AgustaWestland was accountable for 80 per cent turnover of his flagship firm in Dubai, Global Services FZE. But a significant stumbling block was the 1991 grounding of WG30 helicopters operated by Pawan Hans after two of them had crashed.

Michel informed ED he signed a contract with AgustaWestland via Gufic General Trading for delivery out 14 grounded helicopters, allegedly making a 45 per cent revenue.

Michel described his go to to the Pawan Hans hangars in Mumbai, the place “the aircraft were…totally stripped of all equipment”. “They were in quite a mess and there was absolutely no chance of these ever flying. They were distorted,” he mentioned.

Questioned in regards to the Euro 18.2 million worth for the buyback deal, he replied: “The price of the aircraft was a combination of knowing what Westland would have paid when there was not much reputation to lose and what I thought the brokers were going for. The rest was guess work.”

Balance sheets supplied by auditors have confirmed that AgustaWestland paid Michel Euro 18.2 million for the contract.

In its criticism, the ED states: “…investigation has proved without doubt that the WG30 helicopters were never repurchased and shipped from India to the UK and are still lying in India. It is amply clear that no service was rendered under this agreement and payment of Euro 18.2 million was made without any corresponding service.”

Records present Michel detailing his first main venture for AgustaWestland: offering crucial spares, primarily gear bins, for the Indian Navy’s Sea King fleet in 2003. But this was hit by the post-Pokhran sanctions, he mentioned.

According to the interrogation information, Michel informed the ED: “I had an idea how to restart the business as a majority of the Sea Kings were grounded due to the US embargo. I was preparing a strategy for Westland to re-enter the market, recover the aircraft and transfer all required technology to India to prevent any possibility of embargo again. I was paid 3% of the total price of the spare parts sold by Westland Helicopters.”

In all, he mentioned, three such spare components contracts have been signed when, in response to his evaluation, 70 per cent of the helicopters’ life had been unused attributable to lack of flying.

“This (the Sea king recovery deal) saved Westland from exiting the Indian market and created a new business and saved India millions of pounds… All Navy business is separate and very genuine…the Navy work in between 2003-2007 was among the best work I ever did,” Michel informed the ED.

Michel claimed he misplaced out on tasks in India as a result of bribery case, together with Indian Rotorcraft, a proposed three way partnership with the Tatas for manufacturing helicopters and parts. He mentioned it took 4 years for the venture to be mounted in 2012 earlier than it was “suspended” (as a result of bribery case). Michael was confronted with a press release of Tata officers whereby they denied they’d any “relationship” with AugustaWestland.

TOMORROW: Denials regardless of key proof, witnesses

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