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Feb 28, 2013 at 12:11am IST

Chopper deal: Key middleman Christian Michel untraceable

Milano: While Parliament in India debates the AgustaWestland chopper deal issue, the focus remains on Christian Michel - the key middleman named in the Italian probe report . Even the Central Bureau of Investigation has named him as a suspect in its preliminary enquiry.

According to the Italian probe report, Michel received a total of Rs 271 crore of the Rs 350 crore kickbacks in the deal. Born on December 12, 1961, Michel is a dual passport holder of Britain and America. He has been using pseudonyms David Syms and David Nigel John Syms. His father - Richard Max Wolfgang Michel died in August 2012.

Michel, however, has been untraceable like other alleged middlemen - Guido Ralph Haschke and Carlo Gerosa - in the deal. The secrecy around him is such that no official record about him carries any of his photographs.

CNN-IBN, however, has found out that he has been a veteran of defence deals in India. His father Wolfgang Michel is believed to be close to top Congress leaders in the 1990s. On the website of Registrars of Companies in India, there is only one entry in the name of Christian Michel James. The DIN number available on the website is 02657302 but there are no details regarding the nature of the business.

CNN IBN has also found that Michel was the main middleman for another French defence major - Dassault. As per his own admission in a French court order of 2002, Michel had accepted a hundred thousand euros from Dassault for pushing in the Mirage-2000 fighters deal between 1998-2000. The channel has been trying to contact Michel on his personal number but most of the times the calls go unanswered or the mobile phone is switched off. Even the text messages have not been responded to. It has also emerged that Michel has been director of many companies but only for short intervals.

But it looks there is still a long way to go before Michel can be found and interrogated as police in UK is not looking for him because the British Prime Minister has said that the issue was between India and Italy. In India, the CBI is making some sort of moves but it seems to have a very little to go on and in Italy the case is under a political cloud with elections underway.