By Anand Singh
New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) The CBI is all set to examine British National and middleman Chritian Michel in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case in the light of documents and statements of his Delhi-based associate R.K. Nanda, sources said on Friday.
A senior CBI official told IANS that the agency will confront Michel with the statement and documents of his close associate Nanda and Nanda’s Mumbai-based partner J.B. Balasubramanian.
The official said that Michel was instrumental in the formation of a shell company in 2005 by Nanda, namely Media Exim Pvt Ltd, with Balasubramanian as another Director.
He alleged that Nanda’s company was a dummy one and used for Michel to park illegal money and nominally to export jewellery and music CDs to Dubai from India.
The official also said that as per Nanda’s statement in 2015 to the agency, he received Rs 6.5 crore from Michel’s Dubai-based company Global Services FZE between 2005 and 2007.
The official said that Nanda, who also ran a travel business based in Connaught Place here, had received the said amount from Michel’s Dubai bank accounts in HDFC Bank and Citibank into the account of Media Exim.
He said the company was set up in 2005 ostensibly to export jewellery and music CDs, but no export took place and later on, as directed by Michel, some properties were purchased in the name of Media Exim.
The official also said that according to the statement of Nanda, Balasubramanian came in contact with him through Michel.
The official said that earlier, Balasubramanian in his statement to the agency disclosed that he had met Michel through one Seturaman of Nelson Health Club in Samrat Hotel in 2005.
He said that Michel and Nanda invested in real estate in Delhi and bought three properties, including a farmhouse in Chhattarpur, in the name of Media Exim.
However, Michel, with the help of Nanda, sold two of the three properties in 2011-12. “The money was transferred to Michel’s Dubai-based firm Global Finance FZE by Nanda,” the official said.
The official further pointed out that during the investigation, it was noticed that Nanda allegedly received nearly Rs 19 crore from Michel. Even Nanda’s company, Supreme Airways, used to buy air tickets for Michel’s travels and his other contacts, for which a payment of Rs 12 crore was made.
Besides Nanda, the official said that the driver of Michel, Narayan Bahadur, who drove him around the power centres of the national capital, would also be confronted in the coming days as he in his statement to the agency in 2015 had said that he was once asked to pick up three English friends from Hyatt Hotel to a Bungalow at Sainik Farms in Delhi, where a function was going on.
In his statement, Bahadur also mentioned that one Indian came out to receive those three friends of Michel in 2008. When Bahadur was asked to choose the Indian from several photos, he picked the photograph of Sanjeev Tyagi.
Michel is currently being questioned by CBI, which obtained a five-day remand on Wednesday after he was extradited to India from Dubai late on Tuesday night. He will be produced before a special CBI court on December 10.
The CBI on Thursday said that it has received a request for consular access to Michel from the British High Commission through the Ministry of External Affairs. The request is under process.
Michel has been accused of bribing many politicians, officials and journalists to swing the deal and is being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
In 2014, India scrapped the contract with Italian company Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying choppers to the Indian Air Force over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks for securing the deal. The revelations had been made during a judicial trial against the company in Italy.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)