Michel sent “three confidential documents namely, revised operational requirements (ORs) of January 2006 for VVIP helicopters, field evaluation report of S-92 helicopter and contents of technical evaluation committee report dated February 2007 belonging to IAF to the top officials of AgustaWestland,” CBI alleged in its latest charge sheet.
CBI also alleged that Michel had “conduits and contacts in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Indian Air Force (IAF)”. Michel, during his interrogation by investigating agencies, has denied association with several “incriminating” dispatches sent to AgustaWestland officials.
According to the charge sheet, the revised operational requirements for VVIP helicopters were sent through fax on January 20, 2006. This contained the OR relating to reduction of service ceiling from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres, introduction of new OR relating to cabin height of 180 centimetres and the addition of word “at least” before twin engine, it said.
The agency said AW-101 (Augusta-Westland-101) was the only helicopter that had three engines and thereby it was made eligible to submit bids “by adding the word “at least” before twin engine”. “The finally approved OR was made part of the request for proposal issued much later i.e on September 27, 2006,” CBI said.
Elaborating on the role of Michel, the agency said he sent a dispatch/report dated April 10, 2008 from Mumbai to Giuseppe Orsi, the then CEO of Agusta-Westland Holdings; Giacomino Saponaro, the then managing director of AgustaWestland, UK, and others, mentioning that he had done certain things to ensure that the contract was awarded to M/s AgustaWestland.
The dispatch by Michel, CBI alleges, included the following measures: “1) Presentation of offer saw the Russians being rejected through a technicality, which was no accident. 2) Paper evaluation saw two of us i.e Agusta-Westland and Sikorsky (US) going through, which is the minimum by law to hold a competition, and flight trials of AgustaWestland had succeeded in distancing them from the competition. If the competition could come through that stage as a partially acceptable bid, next commercial bids will be opened and with the dollar rate, AW will be in trouble”.
The agency also produced the report of a handwriting expert dated April 8, 2019 in which it has been opined that Michel had written a few words/figures on a dispatch dated May 14, 2008 sent to Orsi.
“It has also been opined by the handwriting expert that Michel wrote figure and word “6 pages” on dispatch dated May 22, 2008. In addition, CFSL report confirmed that there are two more dispatches, which contain handwritings of Michel. It corroborates that Michel had handled and sent the dispatches to AgustaWestland officials,” it said in the charge sheet. On the alleged nexus between Michel and accused-turned-approver Rajiv Saxena, the agency said Michel’s firm paid 0.9 million euros to four entities belonging to Rajiv Saxena from the proceeds of crime. AgustaWestland paid 37 million euros to Michel through his company, the charge sheet reads.
It is alleged that Rajiv Saxena conspired with Michel, co-accused Gautam Khaitan and top officials of AgustaWestland in routing kickbacks/commission paid by Agusta-Westland through two companies: M/s IDS Tunisia and M/s Interstellar Technologies Ltd. Saxena received 12.40 million euros in the account of M/s Interstellar Technologies from M/s AgustaWestland. Sandeep Tyagi, brother of the then Air Chief SP Tyagi allegedly laundered kickbacks of Rs 5 crore through banking channels, the charge sheet alleged.
The agency also reproduced an email allegedly written by another middleman, Carlo Gerosa, to Partap K Aggarwal, the then managing director of M/s IDS Tunisia, which showed urgency to “open a shell company namely M/s IDS Tunisia for kickbacks/commission/bribe”. Aggarwal has also been charged by the CBI. According to the email from Gerosa to Aggarwal, “I am very surprised from lack of seriousness in handling this matter, not just now but for months or even years….this is totally unacceptable, nothing was done, no signatures were collected. Why are you dragging on this way? We are ready to introduce two major clients. But all this is subject to establishing M/s IDS Tunisia. We put everything on hold for the time being. We are very upset”.