DNA Special: VVIP chopper scam middleman’s father spied on Sonia Gandhi
Published: Saturday, Feb 16, 2013, 8:05 IST | Updated: Saturday, Feb 16, 2013, 10:13 IST
By Saikat Datta | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA
Christian Michel, allegedly a middleman in the Rs3,760-crore VVIP chopper scam, inherited the bulk of his business and contacts from his father Wolfgang — a prominent businessman who had deep links with the Congress Party and the Indian intelligence in the 1980s and 1990s.
In fact, during the PV Narasimha Rao regime, Wolfgang was asked to gather political intelligence on Congress president Sonia Gandhi when she visited London.
Wolfgang, it is believed, was also in the arms business and was so resourceful that Indian intelligence identified him nearly three decades ago as a “valuable asset”. He was first “raised” by Gary Saxena, who later headed India’s external intelligence agency, R&AW.
Wolfgang, also known in Indian circles as “Walters”, met several top functionaries of the Congress, including those close to Indira Gandhi.
He was popular in the party and would usually meet them under his pseudonym. He proved to be a big asset to the Indian intelligence as well. Indian intelligence officials posted abroad handled his passport and he got preferential treatment whenever he was in New Delhi.
In the 1980s and the 1990s, he tracked arms deals being struck by Pakistan and passed on valuable inputs to his contacts in the Indian intelligence.
In the early 1990s, then prime minister PV Narsimha Rao was nervous about the emergence of Sonia Gandhi as a power centre within the party. He would track her constantly and as soon as she announced a trip to the United Kingdom, the external intelligence agency R&AW was tasked with finding out details. It was left to Wolfgang to use his contacts to find out where she was and who she met, according to top sources in the government.
Wolfgang helped his son Christian, born in 1961, establish himself in the murky world of international dealings that also involved the arms business. His contacts in India was transferred to Christian, who started using them to facilitate business deals in India.
But a few years after establishing himself, he turned against his father and completely deprived him of the controls of their business. Betrayed by his son, Wolfgang became a virtual recluse while his son continued to grow from strength to strength.
Christian’s name figured prominently along with Italian businessmen Guido Ralph Haschke as the two alleged arms dealers. Both were allegedly paid 30 million Euros (about Rs217 crore) to facilitate this deal.