ED probes UAE firms linked to middleman in copter deal

New Delhi:Several United Arab Emirates-based companies have come under the scanner of Indian probe agencies for their suspected links with alleged AgustaWestland middleman and fugitive Christian Michel. The CBI on Monday called in retired Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi for questioning in the VVIP helicopter scandal.

Former Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi at the CBI headquarters in New Delhi on Monday. — Photo: R.V. Moorthy

The questioning will continue on Tuesday; his cousins Sanjeev, Sandeep and Rajiv Tyagi will be summoned later with another accused, Gautam Khaitan. Air Chief Marshal Tyagi was questioned by the CBI for about 10 hours.

“I have told CBI what I had to say. You people (media) are inhuman,” he told reporters emerging from the CBI headquarters in the evening.

Meanwhile, the money trail involving payment of alleged kickbacks through British national Michel has led the Enforcement Directorate to at least six UAE-based companies which, the agency suspects, have had financial dealings with his Dubai firm Global Services FZE.

Money trail in Agusta deal leads to UAE

Indian agencies have sought information about firms located in the United Arab Emirates for their possible links to AgustaWestland middleman and British national Christian Michel. Government records mention Michel’s address as 50 Carlyle Court in London.He had allegedly entered into a deal with AgustaWestland on March 1, 2010, to advise and assist in the deal for sale of 12 VVIP choppers to India. Initially he was offered €42 million, later scaled down to €30 million.

A second purported agreement with Global Services, signed in May 2010, was with another Dubai-based broker firm for facilitating sale of 14 old Westland choppers, to be procured from Pawan Hans. These were obsolete helicopters lying in Pawan Hans facility in Juhu, Mumbai. This contract and proposal are also being probed by investigation agencies, who suspect that funds were transferred in the garb of these two agreements.

The names of another U.K. firm and its Uzbek joint venture have figured in this connection.

The agencies are seeking information from UAE authorities about one Shivani Saxena of S.M. Seven Holdings Limited LLB, shown on paper to be in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone, and her husband. Whether they or their company received any money from Global Services or Michel’s Global Trade & Commerce (UK) and for what purposes is being ascertained.

Another company also said to be located in the Jebel Ali Free Zone has been identified by the agencies as Savoir Fair Consultants, while the three other companies in question are Gulf Bel General Trading, Inventa, Sinanco FZE and Trading LLC. The agencies are trying to ascertain whether any one of these companies had dealings with Michel’s companies between 2007 and 2012.

The ED has also sought details of the transactions of Dubai-based Lloyds Tsb Bank account (No. 60601358922302) through which Global Services, located in Dubai’s Airport Free Zone, received funds from AgustaWestland.

To facilitate transfer of funds, Michel allegedly set up a Delhi-based shell company Media Exim through a local contact in 2005. About Rs. 7 crore were also transferred till 2007 from Global Services on the pretext of exports of music CDs and jewellery. Sensing that Indian agencies had launched a probe, Michel directed the owner to dispose of the properties and subsequently, about Rs.6 crore was transferred back to Dubai after liquidation of four assets.