Christian Michel will be in custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for five days and is expected to be extended to 14 days. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also expected to join the interrogation. And after that, it is very certain that he will be in judicial custody for many months. This will be a huge tension for former Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who was described by Michel as the main “driving force” in the controversial purchase of 12 VVIP Helicopters from Italian firm AgustaWestland. What is the role of Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel in this controversial Rs.3600 crores ($511 million) worth deal where the commission/ bribe is believed to be around Rs.375 crores ($53 million) for favouring AgustaWestland by changing many norms?
The documents and communications seized by Italian investigators from Michel’s partner agent Guido Haschke’s home in 2012 in Switzerland clearly establishes the involvement of Sonia Gandhi and her then political secretary Ahmed Patel’s in the bribery. Photos of Sonia and Ahmed Patel were shown to Haschke in an Italian court as verification and he had confirmed it. Moreover, in the court, Haschke admitted that he mainly dealt with the top brass of Indian Air Force and senior officials in Defence Ministry for the execution of this corrupt deal, while Christian Michel handled the political leadership, where the major part of the bribe money has gone. The Italian Judgment annexed a handwritten chart of the distribution of bribe money too. Ahmed Patel is named as AP in the note.
Sonia Gandhi’s name [signora (Mrs) GANDHI] is mentioned four times, two times each on page 193 and 204 of the Italian court judgment, which in 2016 convicted many officials of Finmeccanica, the firm which manufactures AgustaWestland VVIP Choppers.
The judgment also annexed another letter from Michel to Haschke. The letter dated March 15, 2008, seized by investigators shows the main middleman Christian Michel writing to Peter Hulet, the then India region sales and liaison head of the helicopter company. The letter states that Sonia is the main driving force behind this deal and she will no longer fly in the existing MI-8 choppers. The letter is quoted verbatim in the judgment. This shows that either Sonia herself or Ahmed Patel must have conveyed this decision to Michel.
Christian Michel’s family has had a long association with Sonia Gandhi’s family from the 1980s. Michel’s father Wolfgang Michel was a multi-nation aviation industry handler in many countries ranging from UK, Russia to Libya. It is an open secret that Sonia Gandhi in the early 90s stayed at Wolfgang Michel’s home when she visited London. This was reported in media citing many former Research and Analytical Wing (RAW) agents, who were deputed by the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to track Sonia’s movements in London. The RAW agents promptly filed reports with photos of Sonia’s association with the Michel family in London.
Another communication annexed in the Italian judgment is very interesting. Page Nos. 163 and 164 names Manmohan Singh and details that Orsi used Italian leadership and diplomats to contact the then Prime Minister to scuttle the probe by non-cooperation from the Indian government side. In Page 163, the Judgment produces a hand-written note by Orsi from jail in July 2013 asking his people to contact then Italian Prime Minister Monti or Ambassador Terracciano to call Manmohan Singh.
“Call Monti or Amb. Terracciano in my name to ask him to call the PM Singh,” said the note seized from the prison cell of Orsi. The Judgment in several areas blames the non-cooperation from Indian authorities including Defence Ministry and other probe agencies in 2013. These things clearly show that not only in the deal-clinching, but also in sabotaging the Italian probe was done from UPA Government, which was totally under the control of Sonia Gandhi. In April 2016 PGurus published details of the Italian Judgment exposing the role of Sonia Gandhi in this murky deal.
The coming days will be harsh for Sonia Gandhi when Christian Michel in CBI custody starts spilling the beans of the kickbacks in AgustaWestland deal. It must be remembered that this is not the only deal Michel clinched during Sonia’s regime, who was a frequenter to Delhi in October 2012. Michel was also in touch with Congress leaders till mid-2017, when CBI thru Interpol approached Dubai authorities. In June 2016, Michel even came out in the media to give a clean chit to Sonia, when the Italian judgment exposed Sonia’s role in the deal. It is known that Kamal Nath’s son Bakul Nath was behind this pre-arranged media interview to save Sonia. This incident shows that Sonia Gandhi and her managers were in touch with Christian Michel.
Indian politics is now waiting to see what the revelations of Christian Michel are during the custodial interrogation of CBI.
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 70.51 Rupees.
 Italian Court judgment exposing Sonia Gandhi & Manmohan Singh in AgustaWestland Deal (Full Report) – Apr 26, 2016, PGurus.com
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