New Delhi: The political blamegame over the AgustaWestland chopper deal intensified on Friday with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dragging in Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi's name. The Congress was quick to refute the claims.
Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Kirit Somaiya on Friday wrote to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking an investigation into the role of Rahul Gandhi's political aide Kanishka Singh in the AgustaWestland 101 helicopter deal. Somaiya has reportedly claimed that Emaar MGF Land Limited owned by Kanishka Singh's relatives benefitted from the chopper deal.
"Emaar MGF is a real estate company owned by late Ved Prakash Gupta with late SK Singh being one of the promoters and shareholders of the company. SK Singh is father of Kanishka Singh who is close to Rahul Gandhi and served as a his political secretary.
"It is believed that British citizen Michel, had received 60 per cent (around Rs 210 crore) of the kickback amount of 51 million Euros (around Rs 360 crore) from the Finmeccanica, the manufactures of AgustaWestland choppers. His contacts are stronger especially with the Indian Defence, that he has inherited from his father, Wolfgang Max Michel Richard, a British businessman who was very active in India between 80s and 90s and was close to the Congress party," Somaiya wrote in his letter to the CBI Director.
The Congress refuted Somaiya's claims saying the Opposition drags Rahul Gandhi into everything. "Tomorrow if someone eats a pizza, you are going to say it's Rahul Gandhi, that's absurd. Stick to the facts. There are certain allegations made. There may be players involved. There may not be players involved, but to just randomly keep accusing people, I don't think it's a fair way to deal with this issue," Congress leader Renuka Chowdhary said.
Emaar MGF Land Limited has issued a clarification saying Guido R Haschke - one of the alleged middlemen in the deal - was a director in the company for only two months and that the company has had no association with him or any of his businesses or associates other than this. Emaar said in the press release that Haschke did not attend any board meetings during his association with the company.
"Guido R Hashke was an independent non-executive director for an extremely brief period of approximately two months i.e. September 25, 2009 to December 7, 2009, Emaar MGF has had no association with him or any of his businesses/associates other than this.
"Hashke was appointed on the Board of the Company due to the statutory requirement of having certain number of independent directors on the board to be a publicly listed company. Therefore he was appointed as an independent director to fulfill the requirements of the company's proposed IPO at that time...We wish to state on record that he did not attend any board meeting during his tenure of appointment and in fact has never visited our offices at any time nor has had any meetings with any of our officials at any time. Furthermore, he has not represented the company in any forum at any time," said Emaar MGF in its statement.
Meanwhile, as the Ministry of Defence on Friday initiated the process to scrap the deal with AgustaWestland for 12 VVIP helicopters, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing into the case, has decided to send a team to Italy within a week.
According to CBI sources, the investigating agency got no incriminating documents from the Ministry of Defence as only a small briefing was given by the ministry officials on Friday. Sources further said that they expected some details to register preliminary enquiry, but got nothing, hence the CBI decided to rush teams to Italy in next two days.
This came after the government issued a notice to the company, asking why the deal should not be cancelled. AgustaWestland has been asked by the government to reply to the notice within seven days, even as the Ministry has asked the company to explain the bribery charges in the case.
(With additional information from PTI)