Christian Michel, the fugitive middleman in the AgustaWestland (AW) deal, had collected Six Million Euros (₹45 crores) from AgustaWestland chopper manufacturer Finmeccanica for managing the Indian media. The Finmeccanica and Michel’s company Global Services FZE of Dubai had entered into a post service contract after the controversial purchase of 12 VVIP choppers on March 1 2010. The contract is shown at the end of this page as a two-page appendix.
The agreement shows that from January 2010 onwards AgustaWestland (AW) the manufacturer, will pay €275,000 to Michel’s company for a period of 22 months. The total amount allotted is more than 6 million Euros, (€6,050,000 to be exact). It should be noted that the VVIP chopper deal was signed in 2009 and the media management contract started in 2010; for a period of 22 months Michel received 275,000 Euros per month for this covert PR exercise. Christian Michel would stay at The Claridges New Delhi, a place known for schmoozing with journalists and bureaucrats. During this period, no word was published in Indian media about this deal. Media started writing only in early 2013 after the Italian probe agencies arrested Finmeccanica Chief Orsi.
According to the agreement, for this deal, Michel’s company would:
Identify and inform the Company of any hostile press activities that may impact the execution of the Contract.
Advise and assist the Company in the development of risk mitigation strategies to minimise the impact of any hostile press activities.
Provide the company with routine feedback on press activity with respect to the performance of the Contract or any associated contributing activities.
This 6 million Euro allocation to manage media houses exposes the clout fugitive Christian Michel had on Indian media. Hindu’s April 27, 2016, edition has published the entire contents of a letter Christian Michel allegedly wrote to Prime Minister Modi and Congress leaders have taken this report as gospel truth and gone to the airwaves. This letter bears closer examination.
In The Hindu article, a letter allegedly written by Christian Michel James (curiously signed as just “James”), in Page 2, Michel asserts: “the submission claimed that my company received a contract from AW to assist AW…” is “an arbitrary statement without any foundation…”. At the end of this post, we attach the relevant pages of the agreement between AW and Christian Michel’s Dubai-based company, Global Services FZE.
Yesterday editors such as Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai kept referring to fugitive Christian Michel’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a matter that is under investigation, even if the letter was indeed sent to the Prime Minister, would he release it to the media? Then that begs the question as to how they came to know about the letter written by a fugitive? Is it possible that the 6 Million Euro worth of media management fees is beginning to do its work now?
Now that the value of money pumped into Indian media during 2010 to 2012 is out it will be interesting to see who the recipients in the media were, of this largesse. At this time, only one journalist, Raju Santhanam has been questioned by Enforcement Directorate, in early 2015. His statement was given to the Enforcement Directorate (ED). In this submission, he admitted that he had accepted favours from Michel and is expected to be a witness in the case.
It is learned that the controversial, now jailed, arms dealer Abhishek Verma did the ground work for Michel in tackling the pliable journalists of Delhi. Abhishek Verma’s father late Shrikant Verma was a two-time Congress MP in Rajya Sabha. Shrikant Verma, a leading journalist, was the Hindi language teacher of Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi family in the early 70s and an active member of inner circle of Gandhi family.
Below is a copy of the contract between AW and Christian Michel. Please note the customer name – Indian Air Force. S P Tyagi (and his family) have some explaining to do.
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 Euro = 75.06 Rupees.
2. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
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