J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi
July 01, 2013
While the Indian and Italian probe agencies are still uncertain about his whereabouts, the fugitive Christian Michel, a major beneficiary of the AgustaWestland chopper scam, has put out an advertisement for sale of his plush home in London .
According to the advertisement, Michel wants 4,75,000 British Pound Sterling (more than Rs 40 crore) for his home in Chelsea , London .
The Italian probe team had nabbed another middleman Guido Ralph Haschke, but Michel remained out of their clutches. According to the charge sheet filed in an Italian court, out of the total commission of around 51 million euros (Rs 360 crore), Michel had received a major portion of 31 million euros (Rs 218 crore).
Michel’s father Wolfgang Richard Michel was very active in Indian defence deals in the 80s and the 90s and was close to the Congress party leadership. Wolfgang, who passed away in August 2012, was a prominent arms dealer in aerospace industry.
He had played an active role in arms supply by Britain to Libyan dictator Gaddafi. His links also spread to Russia , Iran and Iraq . His son Christian Michel had taken over his father’s business in the early 90s.
The house sale advertisement, that appeared in the property website Rightmove, shows several photos of exteriors and interiors of Michel’s home. Marsh & Parsons, a property firm in Chelsea is entrusted with the sale of this home. The huge house, close to River Thames, carries the address: Old Chelsea Mews, 18 Danvers Street , SW3.
This is the address assigned by Michel’s father Wolfgang to a company registered in Panama, where he routed commission from arms deals across the globe. Wolfgang had registered this company in 1995 along with one Vikram Singh from New Delhi . The company called Keyser Incorporated, registered in Panama was taken over by his son Michel.
Christian Michel alias Christian James Michel left London around 2005. For the last seven years, he has been living in Dubai . He last visited New Delhi in October 2012. He was forced to leave London , after he was declared insolvent. After the insolvency, he was barred from becoming a director in those companies and was forced to dissolve all eight companies registered in the UK .
According to Italian newspapers, “mysterious Michel” was known as the close confidant of Giuseppe Orsi, the arrested chief of Finmeccanica, the maker of the AgustaWestland choppers.
“Born in 1961, Michel is little known to the public. On the internet, there is no evidence of his business or his statement. Not a photo or an interview. Yet, Michel is very well known in Defence establishments in New Delhi ,” says Lettera 43 the Italian newspaper report titled “Christian Michel, the English middleman of Finmeccanica.”
Michel’s sister Caroline Michel is a well known literary agent in UK and chief of a noted publishing house Peter Fraser and Dunlop. Michel is currently running a trading firm called Global Services FZE in Dubai Airport Free Zone and believed to be staying in the posh Palm Jumeirah area in Dubai .
[The report was published in 'The Pioneer' on July 1, 2013]