He may have become the poster boy for Indian enforcement agencies, but alleged Agusta middleman Christian Michel, extradited by Dubai on December 4, has not opened up at all to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Top sources have confirmed to NDTV that the cooperation they were hoping for from the middleman in the 3600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal has not materialised.
After nearly two weeks in CBI custody, Christian Michel remains tight-lipped about his business dealings and who got the benefit of Rs 500-odd crores allegedly paid in India to help aeronautics company AgustaWestland land the contract for a dozen helicopters for VVIPs during UPA-1. While the CBI has told a court that Michel claimed to be dyslexic, NDTV has learnt that his tactic has been to counter every question by deflecting it to the other middleman being investigated in the case, Guido Haschke.
For the past two weeks, since National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval oversaw the process of his extradition from Dubai, Christian Michel has been staying at room number 2 of the CBI guest house at the headquarters. Mindful of his high profile status, the agency has ensured he's comfortable and in relative luxury in the suite which has air-conditioning and other facilities.
However, if the CBI thought he would decipher the notes recovered with payments marked against acronyms like "fam" and "AP", they have been left disappointed. Sources tell NDTV he has denied knowledge of these and said Guido Haschke made those payments. These entries have been in the media glare as the BJP alleged 'fam' referred to the Gandhis and 'AP' was Sonia Gandhi's political treasurer Ahmed Patel.
Sources say when the CBI confronted him with payments to various companies made from his accounts, he said he was directed to do so by other companies. All of the CBI team's top officers, including Joint director Sai Manohar, reportedly tried their luck but failed to get Christian Michel to spill. His lawyers are now moving for his bail application.