AgustaWestland: 'They tried best to counter coverage. Did it work? No': Journalist on chargesheet

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 05 April 2019, 01:07 PM

Senior journalist Manu Pubby, whose name has been mentioned in the Enforcement Directorate’s supplementary chargesheet in the AgustaWestland case, today took to Twitter and said that his reportage is a testimony that Christian Michel’s attempt to influence him ‘didn’t work’. In a series of tweets, Pubby said that, “(Christian) Michel would not be in jail if Agusta had managed a coverup. (Gautam) Khaitan would not have been arrested.” The chargesheet mentions names of three journalists - Raju Santhanam, Shekar Gupta and Manu Pubby.

According to the chargesheet, "as per Casana sheet, a payment of Euro 205860.40 was made to Ashwin Santhanam, son of Raju Santhanam in addition to booking an air ticket for him and his family for a total amount of Rs 26.50 lakh". It also reveals that Michel had hired a media advisor to get ‘his side of story’ to the public. Michel reportedly hired Guy Douglas to influence the media. “This fact is further corroborated by act of influence on Manu Pubby and Shekhar Gupta to tone down the article in Indian Express,” the chargsheet said. The media advisor hired was in touch with several journalists in India, Michel told the probe agency.

“My series of reports in 2012-14 form the backbone of the CBI/ED chargesheet in the Agusta case. They never held back, were the first references of 'Fam', 'AP', Tyagi to ever be reported. In the dozens of articles that I wrote to expose the scam, names of middlemen like Christian Michel, Gautam Khaitan, Guido Haschke were first bought to public light. Michel would not be in jail if Agusta had managed a coverup. Khaitan would not have been arrested,” Pubby said on Twitter.

“Agusta had its contract cancelled, got banned for ten years after my series of articles on the VVIP helicopter deal. Yes, they tried their best to counter the coverage, tone it down. Did it work ? No. My stories and work is testimony to that. Named them all - from AP to Michel,” he added.

Michel, the alleged middleman arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case, is understood to have identified the initials "AP" as Ahmed Patel in a chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) before a court here on Thursday. The agency, in its supplementary chargesheet filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), said "a part of kickback was paid to defence officials, bureaucrats, mediapersons and important political persons of the ruling party" when the deal was being struck.

The chargesheet said according to the "budget sheet, 30 million euros were paid to Air Force officers, bureaucrats and politicians" to swing the deal in the favour of AgustaWestland for purchasing the choppers to ferry VVIPs across the country.

"Christian Michel James has further disclosed various abbreviations used in the budget sheet, which contains the details of the payments made to Air Force officials, bureaucrats and political persons.

"The recipients of the kickback include several categories of persons namely Air Force officials, bureaucrats including defence ministry officials and top political leaders of the then ruling party. As per Christian Michel James, 'AP' means Ahmed Patel and 'Fam' means Family," the ED said.

At another place in the chargesheet, Michel said, "I cannot say what Haschke was thinking. As a guess, I would think he was talking about Ahmed Patel."

Regarding "Fam", he said it "could mean family".While the identity of the said Ahmed Patel is not clear, it is understood that it refers to the senior Congress leader. The veteran leader has not been named in the PMLA FIR of the case.

First Published: Friday, April 05, 2019 12:18 PM
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