The Untold Story of Christian Michel and AugustaWestland
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67 pages

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The agustawestland scandal has a distinct Bofors flavour to it. Stories, in the case of both, first broke in the foreign media. The countries that produced the Bofors gun and the agustawestland choppers have long forgotten the scandal. In India, though, amidst the heat and dust generated by leaks, insinuations and wild interpretations, the truth still eludes us. The untold story looks at how the scandal first unfolded in Italy and later became a raging storm in India. Caught in the web of complex events orchestrated by powerful corporate kingpins with vested interests are the three main players – Guido haschke, Giuseppe or SI and Christian Michel. The book also provides insights into the role of coteries in India’s power politics. Confidential UK cabinet documents from the archives give a totally new insight into the deal first struck in 1987. The untold story is a ringside view on the scandal and its ramifications.



Publié par
Date de parution 27 mai 2019
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9788194110965
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 4 Mo

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A veteran journalist, Raju Santhanam has spent over forty years in journalism in print and television. A former head of Zee News and editor of the Statesman , Raju’s forte has been investigative journalism. He ran the Statesman ’s Insight Investigative team for a number of years, and was well known for some of the best investigative stories in the eighties and subsequent years. Currently, Raju is focussed on research-based projects that have a global impact on international audience.
OTHER LOTUS TITLES Anil Dharker Icons: Men & Women Who Shaped Today’s India Aitzaz Ahsan The Indus Saga: The Making of Pakistan Ajay Mansingh Firaq Gorakhpuri: The Poet of Pain & Ecstasy Alam Srinivas Women of Vision: Nine Business Leaders in Conversation Amarinder Singh The Last Sunset: The Rise & Fall of the Lahore Durbar Aruna Roy The RTI Story: Power to the People Ashis Ray Laid to Rest: The Controversy of Subhas Chandra Bose’s Death Bertil Falk Feroze: The Forgotten Gandhi Harinder Baweja (Ed.) 26/11 Mumbai Attacked Harinder Baweja A Soldier’s Diary: Kargil – The Inside Story Ian H. Magedera Indian Videshinis: European Women in India Kunal Purandare Ramakant Achrekar: A Biography Lucy Peck Agra: The Architectural Heritage Lucy Peck Delhi a Thousand Years of Building: An INTACH-Roli Guide M.J. Akbar Blood Brothers: A Family Saga Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo Param Vir: Our Heroes in Battle Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo The Sinking of INS Khukri: What Happened in 1971 Madhu Trehan Tehelka as Metaphor Manish Pachouly The Sheena Bora Case Moin Mir Surat: Fall of A Port Rise of A Prince Defeat of the East India Company in the House Of Commons Monisha Rajesh Around India in 80 Trains Noorul Hasan Meena Kumari: The Poet Prateep K. Lahiri A Tide in the Affairs of Men: A Public Servant Remembers Rajika Bhandari The Raj on the Move: Story of the Dak Bungalow Ralph Russell The Famous Ghalib: The Sound of my Moving Pen Rahul Bedi The Last Word: Obituaries of 100 Indian who Led Unusual Lives R.V. Smith Delhi: Unknown Tales of a City Salman Akthar The Book of Emotions Sharmishta Gooptu Bengali Cinema: An Other Nation Shrabani Basu Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan Shahrayar Khan Bhopal Connections: Vignettes of Royal Rule Shantanu Guha Ray Mahi: The Story Of India’s Most Successful Captain S. Hussain Zaidi Dongri to Dubai Sunil Raman & Rohit Aggarwal Delhi Durbar: 1911 The Complete Story Thomas Weber Going Native: Gandhi’s Relationship with Western Women Thomas Weber Gandhi at First Sight Vaibhav Purandare Sachin Tendulkar: A definitive biography Vappala Balachandran A Life In Shadow: The Secret Story of ACN Nambiar – A Forgotten Anti-Colonial Warrior Vir Sanghvi Men of Steel: India’s Business Leaders in Candid Conversation
FORTHCOMING TITLES Brij Mohan Bhalla Kasturba Gandhi: A Biography

This digital edition published in 2019
First published in 2019 by
The Lotus Collection
An Imprint of Roli Books Pvt. Ltd
M-75, Greater Kailash- II Market
New Delhi 110 048
Phone: ++91 (011) 40682000
Copyright © Raju Santhanam, 2019
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, print reproduction, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Roli Books. Any unauthorized distribution of this e-book may be considered a direct infringement of copyright and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
eISBN: 978-81-941109-6-5
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This e-book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated, without the publisher’s prior consent, in any form or cover other than that in which it is published.
For Jaya
Without whom this book would not have been possible and to Krishnan for his incisive inputs
CONTENTS     Foreword     Timeline of the Case     Preface     Disclosure ONE : Agusta and the Gandhi Family Probe TWO : Westland Story 1987: Rajiv Gandhi’s Flip-Flop THREE : The AgustaWestland Tapes FOUR : The Haschke Confessions FIVE : Downfall of Orsi SIX : Acquittal, Conviction and Finally Full Acquittal: The Italian Court Saga SEVEN : Michel’s Story: The Unfolding of a Scandal EIGHT : Michel’s War with the Kingpins of Finmeccanica     Epilogue     Index
Military supplies and aircraft deals have always stimulated writers, investigative journalists and film makers to create great works describing its complexities and moral contradictions. Playwright George Bernard Shaw, who was also a political activist, captured the spirit of this business in his 1905 play Major Barbara , where munitions manufacturer Andrew Undershaft confesses: “Here I am, a profiteer in mutilation and murder.” Lady Britomart Undershaft, his estranged wife tells her son Stephen: “Your father must be fabulously wealthy, because there is always a war going on somewhere.” Undershaft agrees: “The more destructive war becomes, the more fascinating we find it.” His philosophy: “To give arms to all men who offer an honest price for them, without respect of persons or principles.”
It is said that Shaw had modelled Undershaft after the unscrupulous Greek arms dealer Basil Zaharoff, who had successfully sold faulty Nordenfelt steam-driven submarines to Greece and Turkey by playing up their mutual fears after the Greco–Turkish war in 1897. On top of that he also sold two units to Russia for the Black Sea security.
Anthony Sampson in his 1977 classic Arms Bazaar: From Lebanon to Lockheed says that the “honest price” policy was followed later in munitions sales to antagonistic countries by Alfred Nobel, Alfred Krupp, Andrew Carnegie and the Dupont family, described as the “Merchants of Death”. He highlights how US Defence Secretary Robert McNamara (1961–68) chose to ignore President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning during his farewell speech on January 7, 1961 on the threat from “Military Industrial Complex” to a democratic government. Instead, he initiated US arms sales to NATO countries to offset the deficit in the balance of payments, thus strengthening this lobby.
More recently Andrew Feinstein, former African National Congress parliamentarian and British TV commentator exposed more light on this intriguing world in his book The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade . He describes several deals including Al Yamamah, the largest ever British arms sales to Saudi Arabia from 1985, which was worth about 80 billion British pounds. A 2018 BBC study puts the total global worth of defence related sales as US $100 billion with United States of America capturing 34 per cent of the market, which is 58 per cent higher than its nearest competitor Russia, the second largest exporter.
“AgustaWestland VVIP Chopper Deal”, although not an arms contract is now engaging prime attention in India as the NDA government chose to give more importance to the extradition of Christian Michel, its prime accused and alleged bribe giver, by sending a special aircraft to ferry him to the country. He was the twentieth fugitive brought back to India from United Arab Emirates since 2002, which included hardened terrorists like “Indian Mujahideen” financier Abdul Wahid Siddibapa (Bhatkal Gang) responsible for ten bombings (2007–13) and 235 killings; all were flown in only by commercial airlines.
Senior journalist Raju Santhanam, who has long experience as an investigative journalist has now produced a riveting book on “AgustaWestland VVIP Chopper Deal” based on his extensive research from open sources supplemented with his personal acquaintance of Christian Michel. It is quite interesting to read that he got acquainted with Michel while on a quest to write a book on his father, the late Wolfgang Max Richard Michel alias Wally Michel, a mystery figure.
During my service I too had heard about Wally Michel but never had an opportunity to meet him. As Raju had said, Wally Michel’s activities used to transcend arms deals, blurring the borders between state to state relations, diplomacy and intelligence. That was the reason why his activities were covered by “D-notice”, which is DSMA Notice (Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee) by UK government and fifteen media representatives, which oversee a voluntary code operating between the government national security departments and the media.
A book on Wolfgang would have been an international bestseller. Yet the current attention in India made Raju change tracks and write about the son, sidelining his enigmatic father, “chronicling Michel’s own fight with Finmeccanica (the parent company of AgustaWestland), the Italian prosecutors and Guido Haschke (the man who let him down), and later, the Indian government”. In doing this Raju gives a fascinating 360-degree image to the subject, which no media report has been able to provide so far.
Vappala Balachandran
Former Special Secretary
Cabinet Secretariat
TIMELINE OF THE CASE August 1999 The Indian Air Force (IAF), responsible for carrying out VVIP communication duties, proposes replacement of Mi-8 helicopters due to operational constraints. March 2002 A global request for proposals issued. November 2003 Concerns raised on single vendor situation in a meeting taken by Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s PMO. A few recommendations also made to change some requirements to accommodate more vendors. November 19, 2003 Decision to lower the altitude requirement considered.   Context: It took three long years – from August 1999 to November 2003 for the then NDA government to decide on a helicopter for VVIPS. Why new VVIP choppers? The explanation of the then government was that there was an urgent need for replacement of the ageing Russian-built choppers. But it was found that only one helicopter was qualified (Eurocopter) because of tough operational requirements.   The Special Protection Group (SPG)

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