AgustaWestland Case: CBI Names Christian Michel In Supplementary Chargesheet

AgustaWestland Case: British national Christian Michel was extradited to India in December 2018 (File)

New Delhi:

The CBI has filed a supplementary chargesheet in the AgustaWestland case that names 15 individuals including middleman Christian Michel – a British national extradited to India from Dubai in December 2018 and currently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

Former CAG Shashi Kant Sharma has not been named in this chargesheet as the CBI has not yet received sanction from the Defence Ministry to prosecute him. Agency sources said last week that permission had been sought to prosecute Mr Sharma and former Air Vice Marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar.

The supplementary chargesheet focuses on the role of Christian Michel and details how he influenced bureaucrats to ensure the contract was awarded to AgustaWestland.

It also details how he received and transferred the alleged kickbacks to government officials with help from Rajiv Saxena – a Dubai-based businessman extradited to India in January last year.

The CBI has collected a number of documents and key pieces of evidence from five countries through Letters Rogatory. These countries are the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Italy and Tunisia.

The alleged role of politicians is not dealt with in this chargesheet, sources within the agency said.

The Agusta Westland case involves a Rs 3,600 crore contract for the purchase of 12 luxury helicopters to be used by top Indian leaders like the President, the Prime Minister and other VIPs.

Signed in 2007 by the Manmohan Singh government, the contract was scrapped six years later amid allegations AgustaWestland paid kickbacks in India amounting to Rs 362 crore.

Mr Sharma, who was Joint Secretary (Air) in the Defence Ministry between 2003-2007, initiated the purchase of the helicopters in that role. He approved the purchase in 2010 as Director General (Defence Acquisition).

Others involved in the case include Christian Michel, one of three middlemen in the deal, along with Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

A Special Investigation Team of the CBI took over this case in 2016 and filed its first chargesheet against SP Tyagi, a former Air Chief Marshal charged with taking bribes to alter chopper specs, and 11 others in September 2017.

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