The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday recorded the statement of former Intelligence Bureau Director and Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan as witness in connection with allegations of bribery in purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from Ango-Italian firm AgustaWestland.
A team of CBI officials recorded the statement of Narasimhan at the Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad and questions related to change in service ceiling of the helicopters were put to him, the agency sources said.
The CBI sources said Narasimhan, along with then National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and then Special Protection Group Chief B V Wanchoo, attended the March 1, 2005 meeting where the decision to reduce service ceiling -- maximum height at which a helicopter can perform optimally -- was taken, making AgustaWestland eligible for the deal.
Recently a CBI team had quizzed Narayanan and Wanchoo as witnesses for its probe into the allegations of bribery of Rs 360 crore in the Rs 3600-crore VVIP chopper deal with AgustaWestland.
The sources said the need to record statements of Wanchoo and Narayanan was felt as both had participated in the meeting in 2005 that allowed key changes in the technical specifications of the chopper.
They said since Narasimhan was also present in the meeting, his statement was crucial to get additional inputs about the reasons for reducing service ceiling. The CBI has alleged that reduction of the service ceiling allowed the Britain-based firm to get into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids.
The CBI had registered a case against former Indian Air Force Chief S P Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen in the case. It was alleged that former air chief reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter so that AgustaWestland was included in the bids. Tyagi has refuted the allegation against him.