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CBI Probe Against Christian Michel Intensifies

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Alleged AgustaWestland accused “Middleman” is pitched for a great battle as the Central Bureau of Investigation continues to embroil him in their strenuous probe to make him divulge more information. Extradited midnight on Tuesday from Dubai, this British business tycoon has been taken on the roster for his act of bribing higher officials to accelerate the AgustaWestland chopper deal being bought for top-notch Indian politicians.

The question trickling the investigator’s intelligence is, Did AgustaWestland accused Christian Michel take a 12 million Euro cut in his commission so that the “Family” can be paid in full? The Central Bureau of Investigation wants him to answer this. The CBI will confront Michel with a 08.05.2011 agreement between him and European middleman Guido Haschke, which says that “Christian James Michel agreed to reduce the amount (his commission) to 30 million Euros from the originally agreed upon 42 million Euros for the ‘team’ to honour the commission to the ‘family’ in full.”

It has become a bone of contention as political slugfest continues over whether the family referred to is the Gandhi family. Michel in media interviews has accused Haschke of forging this agreement. The CBI says that this and a payment sheet was handwritten by Haschke on dictation of Michelle in early 2008. The payment sheet mentions a payment/proposed payment of 30 million Euros to MoD officials, bureaucrats, and politicians.

The CBI also wants to confront Michel with the evidence given by his former associate J B Subramanyam. Subramanyam, the CBI claims, has accepted that he faxed/emailed several IAF and other documents on behalf of Michel to Haschke. This testimony could be problematic for Michel if he maintains that he had nothing to do with the documents recovered from the house of Hachke’s mother.

The CBI investigation so far has revealed that Michel used his Dubai-based companies to launder money from AgustaWestland. The CBI says Michel was to get 7% of the total contract value as commission. “The July 2006 meeting was held in Cascina Costa, Italy, and attended by Renzo Lunardi, then commercial manager, AgustaWestland, and CEC Giuessppe Orsi. It was proposed at this meeting that Michel will join Carlo Gerosa and Guido Ralph Haschke to scout for opportunities for AgustaWestland. During the meeting they had negotiated a comprehensive fees equal to 7% of the total service contract amount to cover the expenses and fees for both of them,” the CBI told the Patiala House court while seeking custody of Michel.

The agency suspects that Michele entered into 12 contracts with Pawan Hans, HAL and Indian Navy through his Dubai-based companies Global Services FZE and Global Trade and Commerce. “These contracts were renewed but never executed. So these could be a means to launder money. Global services and Global Trade appear to be shell companies,” a CBI official said.

The CBI has been given five-day custody of Michel. Officials said that in these five days the focus will be to gather information about the money trail of AgustaWestland bribery case.

Michel is one of the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI.