AgustaWestland VVIP Chopper Scam: CBI Files Chargesheet Against Middleman Christian Michel, 14 OthersAgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel (pic via Twitter)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday (18 September) filed a supplementary chargesheet in the infamous AgustaWestland chopper scam case naming alleged key middleman Christian Michel James, accused-turned-approver Rajeev Saxena and 13 others.

The charge sheet in the VVIP chopper scam case has been filed before Special Judge Arvind Kumar in Delhi's Rouse Avenue Court.

The other 13 accused also include some top government officials who were part of the deal worth Rs 3,600 crore with the the British-Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland. It is significant to note here that no politician has been named in the chargesheet.

The investigation agency has not yet named former defence secretary and comptroller and auditor general Shashi Kant Sharma and former air vice-marshal Jasbir Singh Panesa due to delay in persecution sanctions against them from the government.

Earlier in March, the CBI had asked the central government to sanction persecution against Sharma, Panesar and three other Indian Air Force (IAF) officers in the case.

The Special Judge has now listed the matter for September 21 for consideration of the supplementary charge sheet. The first charge sheet in the case was filed in September 2017.

The case pertains to buying of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters built by Italian defence manufacturing giant Finmeccanica (now known as the group) at an estimated cost of Rs 3,600 crore for ferrying VVIPs. In the deal, bribes were allegedly paid to middlemen and others. The purchase was cleared in 2010 by the then UPA government.

On 1 January, 2014, India cancelled the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF, over alleged breach of contractual obligations and on charges of paying kickbacks amounting to Rs 423 crore.

The CBI, which registered an FIR in the case on 12 March, 2013, had alleged that former IAF chief S P Tyagi, some of his relatives and the other accused received kickbacks from AgustaWestland to help it win the contract.

The CBI probe revealed that several payments were made to the Tyagis by alleged middlemen Guido Haschke, Carlo Gerosa and Christian Michel.

Indian investigative agencies in December 2018 arrested British national Michel after he was handed over by the UAE and he has been in judicial custody ever since. Dubai-based businessman Saxena was extradited to India on 31 January, 2019 in connection with the case.

(With inputs from IANS)

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