I did call Sonia Gandhi driving force : Agusta middleman to NDTV

Dubai, May 12 :  An alleged middleman Indian investigating agencies want to question for the AgustaWestland deal has confirmed to NDTV that in 2008, he did describe Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in a letter as “the driving force” of the decision to acquire new helicopters for use by top politicians when her party was last in power.

However, Christian Michel James, who is based in Dubai, also said that he does not personally know either Mrs Gandhi or her son, Rahul, who is the Congress vice-president, and stressed that his written suggestion that they be lobbied by diplomats does not mean bribes were paid to them, NDTV says.

“I have to protect the Gandhis to protect myself,” he said to NDTV in an interview to be aired on Thurssay at 8 pm.

“I have to prove they are innocent to prove my innocence.” he said.

Michel said that he stands by his earlier claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year met with his Italian counterpart in New York, and offered to release two Italian marines imprisoned in India on murder charges in exchange for information about the Agusta deal that could embarrass or implicate Gandhi.

While denying that its top bosses are linked to the Agusta scam, the Congress had questioned the authenticity of the note Michel verified A Milan court has found Agusta guilty of paying bribes in India.

The verdict – delivered a few weeks ago – has given the BJP fodder to fire at the Congress alleging new proof of the complicity of the Congress’ top bosses in the helicopter swindle. The order, worth 3,600 crores, was cancelled in 2014 after the Italian investigation ramped up.

Michel has over the last few months repeatedly claimed that when Prime Minister Modi was in New York last year for a UN summit, he met on the sidelines with the Italian premier to solicit details gleaned from the Italian investigation that could be used against Gandhi.

In Parliament, the government has denied that the meeting took place. Michel told NDTV that his information is sources from officials in the Italian embassy in Delhi.