INC must clarify graft charges in Augusta Westland chopper deal

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday demanded that in view of the revelations made in the AugustaWestland helicopters deal, the Congress and the Gandhi family must reply to the corruption charges made against them.

“James Christian Michel is a key person in the AugustaWestland deal. The Congress has benefited from him. This is what the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has brought forth before the court. The Congress and Gandhi family must clarify,” said Fadnavis.

He also sought to know why the name of only one family keeps recurring in all defence deals involving corruption charges.

Speaking to the media, he said three companies had bid for the VVIP helicopters – used by President, Prime Minister and others. Of this, AugustaWestland company of Italy bagged the deal for supplying 12 helicopters worth around Rs 3,200 crore.

Later, it emerged that there was massive corruption in this deal that some officials, Indian Air Force officers and politicians were bribed.

“Two officials were arrested and tried by the Italian courts which have sentenced them to jail terms. On page no. 193 of the judgement, Sonia Gandhi’s name appears four times. It also said that a commission of Rs 125 crore at the rate of 10 percent was finalized, of which the Congress got nearly 52 percent, 20 percent went to IAF and the rest to other officials,” Fadnavis said, reading from a prepared statement.

Elaborating, he said that in 2017 Michel was arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and extradited to India recently. The documents and diaries seized from him by the investigators revealed references like Mrs Sonia Gandhi, a letter ‘R’, ‘family’, ‘son of an Italian woman who could be Prime Minister’ and other hints.

“The ED informed the court last week that it wants to investigate all these links and even Michel’s lawyer did not object to it,” Fadnavis pointed out.

He said that shell companies were formed for the money to be siphoned off, and (Congress President) Rahul Gandhi – who has been shouting ‘Chor, Chor’ (Thief, Thief) – must reply to all these issues.

IANS