Claims of Connection with Gandhis ‘Totally Preposterous’: Haschke
Guido Haschke, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland deal, spoke to The Quint about key issues related to the alleged VVIP chopper scam.
In December 2018, one of the main accused in the case, Christian Michel, was extradited from Dubai. Agencies claim that Michel, an alleged middleman, had paid bribes to Indian politicians, bureaucrats and Indian Air Force officers to get the deal.
Haschke and Michel had worked together for the Italian company AgustaWestland to secure the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters by India.
Michel Likes To ‘Boast’ And ‘Drop Names’. His Claims Are ‘Untrue’
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Haschke, in the interview, said that he met SP Tyagi a few times on behalf of AgustaWestland while negotiations were on, but the former Air Force chief never said anything that was “inappropriate in the slightest.”
‘Absolutely Zero Relationship With Gandhi Family’
In the telephonic interview, Haschke spoke about the mysterious ‘budget note’, which was recovered by police from his mother’s residence in Switzerland. Amongst others, the note includes two acronyms – ‘AP’ and ‘Fam’ – but has no signature or date.
Indian investigative agencies consider it to be crucial evidence because they believe that the ‘note’ refers to senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel as ‘AP’ and the Gandhi family as ‘Fam’.
The ‘budget note’ purportedly mentions the break-up of 30 million Euros, of which over 50% allegedly was paid to ‘AP’ and ‘Fam’.
Haschke told The Quint that he wrote the note as Michel dictated it to him. He also said that Michel did not explain the details or the acronyms mentioned on the note, adding that: “Whatever claims of connections with the Gandhis, the family, in my opinion, are totally preposterous.”
Haschke also alleged that the prosecutor had tried to “trick” him into naming Ahmed Patel while he was being questioned as a witness in an Italian court in 2016.
“What the Italian prosecutor tried, while I was a witness in court, he put under my face a picture of an Indian person. He looked at me and said, ‘You know this guy, don’t you?’ I said, ‘No. This is the first time I’ve seen this picture and the first time I’ve seen this face. Who is this supposed to be?’ It (the response) changed the colour on his (prosecutor’s) face because the picture that he showed me was (of) Ahmed Patel. And that’s what he said. He was trying to trick me by looking surprised. I really didn’t know who the hell he was.”Guido Haschke
‘Figment of Michel’s Imagination’
Haschke and Michel parted ways after working together over the chopper deal. According to Haschke, Michel wanted to “aggrandise” his position by dropping the names of influential people.
Most of Michel’s claims made to AgustaWestland were “untrue” and “unreal”, Haschke said.
“I did not trust the guy (Michel) at all and I thought that he was possibly endangering the whole project. In many written fax communications that he (Michel) sent to the company (AgustaWestland) and the chairman, he wrote many things that were later demonstrated to be untrue and unreal.”Guido Haschke
Haschke also said that the ‘budget note’ was nothing but a “figment” of Michel’s "imagination”.
‘IAF Chief Never Said Anything Inappropriate’
The former Indian Air Force Chief SP Tyagi was chargesheeted and arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in December 2016. He was out on bail within a month.
Tyagi was accused of favouring AgustaWestland by reducing the parameter of ‘service ceiling’ or the maximum height at which choppers competing for the deal were expected to fly. In return, he allegedly received a bribe from the Italian company.
The prosecution in the Italian court failed to produce any evidence against Tyagi to show that he had received a bribe, Haschke said.
“I was asked again, for the umpteenth time, ‘Did you make any payment to Shashi Tyagi? Did you do any corruptive act?’ And I confirmed again and again that I didn’t pay anybody. As I was under oath, if for some reason, there had been opposing evidence or statements by some of the witnesses, or whatever else, I would have been arrested in court for making a false statement.”Guido Haschke
Haschke’s lawyer Prashant Kumar told The Quint that the alleged middleman, who is wanted in India in connection with the AgustaWestland deal, cannot be extradited.
“There is no extradition treaty on corruption offences between Italy and India. The extradition treaty is limited to drug-related cases. Under the cooperation treaty, he has already participated in the trial before the Italian court. He has been examined too. As far as Haschke’s role is concerned, it ends there.”Prashant Kumar, Guido Haschke’s Lawyer
Michel was sent to Delhi’s Tihar jail in January after being interrogated by CBI and ED for over a month.