AgustaWestland: Kickbacks worth Rs 184 crore given to a 'family'?
         Date: 05-Dec-2018


In a big expose about the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, national news channel Times Now reported that amount of money to be given as kickbacks to people named under the code words 'family' and 'AP'.
 
The channel claimed to have accessed exclusive documents of the Central Bureau of Investigation that reveal the kickbacks which were to be given to the family came up to Rs 184 crores as per market values back then.
 
"One agreement EUR 42 million with the team and the other for EUR 28 million (not less than 5% of the total contract value) with the family...The family want their agreement honoured," the document reportedly read.
 
Christian Michel is one of the three key middlemen who is believed to have brokered the deal between AgustaWestland and the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the Rs 3,600 crore. Michel has been extradited from the UAE on Tuesday. On January 1, 2014, India cancelled the contract to purchase 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers.
 
The story started in 1999 with the proposal from the Indian Air Force, which is responsible for the VVIP movement due to operational constraints in existing Mi8 choppers. After twists and turns that usually takes in a defence deal, the then Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in February 2010 had signed a contract with UK-based AgustaWestland to purchase 12 AW101 helicopters for the Indian Air Force for Rs 3,600 crore. Till then the questions like who changed the specifications, why the amount was higher, who were the beneficiaries of the deal were not raised.
 
The first storm struck when the AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini and Guiseppe Orsi, chairman of AgustaWestland's parent company Finmeccanica, were arrested by Italian police in February 2013 on charges of paying bribes to win the deal with the IAF. Several IAF officers including former IAF chief SP Tyagi and four companies came under the scanner. The Government consequently initiated action for termination of the contract on the grounds of the pre-contract-Integrity Pact and Agreement and finally the Crime Investigation Bureau registered FIR in January 2013.
 
The arrest of businessman Gautam Khaitan on allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in September 2014 was the significant development in the case. Meanwhile, the local court acquitted both Orsi and Spagnolini in October, 2014. On April 7, 2016 when the appellate court in Italy convicted both of them for false accounting and corruption, tremors of that judgement reached to Bharat through Christian Michelle, who offered his assistance in the investigation through an interview to a TV channel.
 
 
Meanwhile, the Indian Youth Congress (IYC), the youth wing of the Congress has expelled its leader Aljo K Joseph from the party and its legal department for defending Christian Michel in the court. Ordering Joseph's expulsion, the IYC in a statement said that "Aljo K Joseph appeared in his personal capacity. He did not consult the Youth Congress before appearing in the case."