J Gopikrishnan / New Delhi
Feb 15, 2013
Michel was also the agent of Dassault, which has emerged as the lowest bidder for the Indian Air Force’s 10 billion dollar deal for Rafale fighter jets, supposed to be the world’s biggest tender.
According to the Italian newspaper report on November 20, 2012, the “mysterious” British citizen Michel, described as “Man of Orsi”, had received 60 per cent (around `210 crore) of the kickback amount of 51 million Euros (around `360 crore) from the Finmeccanica, the manufactures of AgustaWestland choppers.
The investigation report filed in the Italian court corroborated the findings. It said that the CEO of Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, and AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini had paid 30 million Euros (`217 crore) to Christian Michel. “Orsi and Spagnolin, moreover, paid Christian Michel a total amount of about Euros 30 million, partly destined to support the corrupt activity meant to bag the order and partly to implement the contract,” the document said.
“Born in 1961, Michel is little known to the public. On the internet, there are no evidences of his business or his statement. Not a photo or an interview. Yet, Michel is very well introduced in Defence establishments in New Delhi,” says the Italian newspaper report titled “Christian Michel, the English middleman of Finmeccanica.”
“His contacts are stronger especially with the Indian Defence, that he has inherited from his father, Wolfgang Max Michel Richard, a British businessman who was very active in India between 80s and 90s and was close to the Congress party,” the reports says.
The detailed article on the business background of the “mysterious” Michel stated that his father had business interests in Libya, Russia, Iran and Iraq. He was a Labour party’s fund-raiser before his death in August 2012.
Italian newspaper reports as well as French Court records establish that Michel was an agent of Dassault, which is set to bag the 10 billion dollar worth deal from Indian Air Force. According to these reports, in 2004, Michel sued Dassault over non-payment of commission for the purchase of Mirage aircraft for Indian Air Force in 2000. However, Michel lost the case at Paris Commercial Tribunal on the technical grounds that his agreement with Dassault had expired.
Haschke case is all more bizarre. The man who confessed to the Italian court on his connections with former Air Chief SP Tyagi was the Director of Emaar MGF, the firm which bagged the biggest deal in connection with Commonwealth Games. Haschke is neither builder nor a real estate entrepreneur, so his connection with Emaar MGF is bound to raise eyebrows.
The controversial real estate giant is still being probed by the CBI for alleged irregularities in the construction of the Games Village Complex in Delhi. Late Ved Prakash Gupta, the founder of Emaar MGF, was the maternal grandfather of Kanishka Singh. Kanishka’s father late SK Singh was also promoter of another related company called MGF. The real estate company Emaar MGF was doled out controversial favour by the Delhi Development Authority after it bagged the contract for building the CWG Village.
According to the prospectus filed by Emaar MGF with SEBI, Haschke was Director in September 2009. But in December 2009, he resigned after the Games scandal exploded and Opposition leaders and former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari alleged that the Emmar MGF had been favoured due to its link with Kanishka Singh.
1951 born, Haschke is a Switzerland-based defence middleman, who holds dual passports of his motherland Italy and that of the USA. Haschke earned 20 million euros (around Rs 150cr) in the deal, according to chargsheet in the AgustaWestland case. It is learned that Haschke stopped visiting India after 2011, when his name cropped up in the Italian probe. Michel, a frequenter to Delhi for the past two decades, also stopped coming to India after August 2012. He is currently operating from Dubai.
[The report was published in ‘The Pioneer’ on Feb 15, 2013]
“We have had extensive discussion on Sunday, the 8th of May, 2011, and it has come to light that there were two agreements in place with AW which is where the misunderstanding has arisen. One agreement was for EUR 42mn with the team and other for EUR 28mn (not less than 5% of the total contract value) with the family.
“The team has agreed to reduce their EUR 42mn to EUR 30mn while recognising the need for the agreement of EUR 29mn with the family to be honoured in full,” said the document, which is the part of the chargesheet.
According to the chargesheet, this document was seized from the bedroom of middleman Haschke’s mother during a raid in
in April 2012. The
chargesheet also talks about a dispute between another middleman Christian
Michel and Haschke on sharing the commission amount. Michel was forced to
accept around 12 million Euro (around 85 crore) to accommodate “the family.” Switzerland
The chargesheet has details about the separate payments made to each member of another family — the Tyagis - amounting to 4,00,000 Euros (around Rs 3.5 crore).
According to the Italian investigators, the next tranche of evidences and the second chargesheet is expected to be filed by March-end.
The BJP on Friday stepped up pressure on the UPA regime asking it to reveal the identity of “the family” that received Rs 200 crore kickbacks.
“Who finalised and signed the VVIP chopper deal?, asked BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar. He also demanded the Government to answer. “Who received the kickbacks?”
He said the Italian chargesheet talks about payment of 28 million Euros to ‘The Family’ at least at two points. “The nation wants to know who “The Family’ is?” Javadekar told reporters.
In its Friday edition, The Pioneer quoted French and Italian newspaper reports claiming that the main commission agent Christian Michel’s late father was “close to the Congress party”, and the other middleman Guido Ralph Haschke was a director of Emaar MGF, a real estate company owned by relatives of Kanishka Singh, who is associated with a Congress high-up.
Meanwhile, BJP national secretary Kirit Somaiya on Friday wrote to the CBI seeking an investigation into the role of Kanishka Singh in the helicopter deal. In his petition to CBI, pointing out that one of the Italian middle man Guido Haschke was a Director with the real estate company,
said that Emaar MGF owned
by Kanishka’s relatives benefited from the chopper deal. Somalia
Emaar MGF washes hands of Kanishka, Haschke
Reacting to a story published in The Pioneer’s Friday edition titled ‘Italian media hints at Congress links to copter scam’, the company said: “We have no links with Kanishka Singh or any of his relatives as mentioned in your story. We would like to state that Kanishka Singh or any of his relatives have no direct or indirect business interest, including as a shareholder and/or promoter in Emaar MGF. We are a corporate house with best of corporate governance and all our shareholding is public and has been filed with various authorities as and when required as per the statutory requirements.”
The company admitted Haschke served as an independent non-executive director for a brief period. “Emaar MGF has had no other association with him or any of his businesses/associates other than this. Haschke was appointed on the Board of the Company due to the statutory requirement of having a diversified board with a certain number of independent directors on the board to be a publicly listed company. Therefore he was appointed as an independent director to fulfill the requirements of the company’s proposed IPO.” The company also claimed he had not visited any of their office or even attended any board meetings.
The company said Haschke was a registered consultant to the World Bank for Asset Trading and Debt Restructuring and was appointed by it considering his experience with international financial.
The Pioneer stands by its report. It is known that Kanishka Singh’s maternal grandfather Ved Prakash Gupta was the founder of Emaar MGF. The company’s current promoter Rajiv Gupta is Kanishka’s uncle. Other promoters, Shravan Gupta and Siddharth Gupta, are his cousins. We have only reported the facts in public domain.