Offensive Defence

AgustaWestland case: ED alleges lobbying to influence UPA-era officials and politicians

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged “high level political lobbying” to influence the UPA government’s finance minister and “his advisors” to tilt the VVIP chopper deal in favour of M/s AgustaWestland.

The ED opposed Christian Michel’s bail in Delhi High Court last week, alleging that the middleman was responsible for “carrying out the liasoning activities with the political leaders of the then ruling party, bureaucrats and ministers”.

The response, accessed by ET, states “even highly placed bureaucrats were under the influence of Michel”. It further alleges that Michel used “illegal influence of the officers of the Air Force, bureaucrats and political leaders” to secure the VVIP chopper deal for AgustaWestland.

It adds “Michel was successful in eliminating the Russians, yet through manipulation, ensured that Sikorsky was in the race so that single vendor situation does not arise, and as Sikorsky would be eliminated, AgustaWestland would get the contract”. As regards alleged kickbacks paid by Michel, ED said Michel incorporated several structures across India, Dubai and Singapore through which kickbacks were routed and paid to “Defence officials, bureaucrats and politicians”.

Michel, the reply reads, “hired two retired Air Force officials to use their networks to track the file movement and remove the obstacles which might be faced by Agusta-Westland.” Michel, in a bid to influence public opinion, also used the media, it adds.

In another big claim, ED alleged that in November, “Michel admitted of having engaged/worked with the Negotiation Committee of the Indian Air Force to help M/s AgustaWestland”.

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