Reports have emerged that Christian Michel, accused of bribery and money laundering in the AgustsaWestland chopper scam, also tried to scuttle the Rafale deal, by devising a “strategy” to promote Eurofighters, which are Rafale’s stiff competitors in the market.
During the Lok Sabha discussion on the deal, when the Opposition tried to belittle the Narendra Modi government by throwing paper planes at the Finance Minister during his speech, Arun Jaitley quipped, “I think these planes are being flown in the memory of Eurofighters.”
In 2007, when the Congress government at the Centre, was trying to strike a deal for fighter planes, Rafale, which was one of the main contenders, had to compete with five others in its league. One of them was Eurofighter Typhoon, designed by a consortium of multinational defence companies from UK, Germany, Italy and Spain. However, after a rigorous testing process by the Air Force, Rafale was selected.
However, India Today TV, in an exclusive report, claims that documents it accessed have now revealed that two middlemen accused of obtaining kickbacks in the VVIP AgustaWestland chopper deal had also ‘strategised’ for the Eurofighter in order to seal the deal in its favour.
A "strategy paper", which was seized during raids at the house of Italian middleman Guido Haschke's, has now revealed that Michel and Haschke worked together on a plan to place Rafale's prime competitor in a “position of advantage” in the selection process.
The document further reads, “There is a need to engage an in-country bureaucratical and political navigator, who should have worked in the Defence Ministry and must be known well on first-name basis by key bureaucrats, the Defence Minister, the PM, the Finance Minister and the Leading Family."
However, Michel and Haschke had a fallout after the signing of the VVIP chopper deal in 2010 even as Rafale and Eurofighter continued to compete for the 126-fighter-jet contract.
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