Explosive details have emerged from supplementary chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal that shows how alleged middlemen Christian Michel James tried to influence public opinion
New Delhi: The investigation of Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper scam revealed the link of editors and journalists with the case.
Explosive details have emerged from supplementary chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal that shows how alleged middlemen Christian Michel James tried to influence public opinion.
According to the chargesheet, “in order to influence public opinion, Christian Michel James has used important personalities in the field of media.”
The chargesheet mentions names of three journalists - Raju Santhanam, Shekar Gupta and Manu Pubby. According to the chargesheet, "a payment of Euro 205860.40 was made to Ashwin Santhanam, son of Raju Santhanam in addition to booking an air ticket for him and his family for a total amount of Rs 26.50 lakh".
It also reveals that Michel had hired a media advisor to get ‘his side of the story’ to the public. Michel reportedly hired Guy Douglas to influence the media.
“This fact is further corroborated by an act of influence on Manu Pubby and Shekhar Gupta to tone down the article in Indian Express," the chargsheet said. The media advisor hired was in touch with several journalists in India, Michel told the probe agency.
The chargesheet quotes Michel, “I engaged a full-time press adviser Guy Douglas to have at least our side reported. The most aggressive journalist was Manu Pubby (then with The Indian Express) …Guy Douglas’s first task was to meet Manu Pubby and see if he was willing to listen to our side of the story.”
However, it must also be noted that it was a series of investigative reports by Manu Pubby in The Indian Express in 2012-13 that first brought the alleged irregularities in the AgustaWestland deal into the public domain.
AgustaWestland supplementary chargesheet, suspect Christian Michel’s laughable and preposterous lies about The Indian Express coverage and a statement from Shekhar Gupta.— ThePrint (@ThePrintIndia) April 5, 2019
Read here: https://t.co/9CRC8OCwUd pic.twitter.com/C0pQpNuGWk
The Print Editor Shekhar Gupta, whose name is there in the chargesheet, called it “laughable and utterly preposterous”.
“The claim in the Enforcement Directorate chargesheet against Christian Michel, a key suspect in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal scam, is that Michel had admitted that he hired the services of a person named Guy Douglas to influence Shekhar Gupta to tone down an article in The Indian Express, is 100% untruth,” he said in a statement.
His statement further read, "The truth is the exact opposite. The Indian Express, under the leadership of then Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta, broke the story first, was at the forefront of the media investigation into the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal scam and was widely commended for its coverage. The timing of the lie by an alleged middleman, extradited into the custody of government agencies as an eventual outcome of the media investigation, raises deep suspicions about its motive."
Meanwhile, Manu Pubby said that it was his series of reports in 2012-14 that formed the backbone of the CBI/ED chargesheet in the AgustaWestland case.
My series of reports in 2012-14 form the backbone of the CBI/ED chargesheet in the Agusta case.— Manu Pubby (@manupubby) April 5, 2019
They never held back, were the first references of 'Fam', 'AP', Tyagi to ever be reported. https://t.co/MpL9GeRVVh
The links are too numerous to put out. But this is just a small sample of stories published that broke the Agusta scam - from Michel to AP, Tyagi and Haschke. pic.twitter.com/6MpV3vFvgH— Manu Pubby (@manupubby) April 5, 2019
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Last Updated 6, Apr 2019, 5:28 PM