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CBI seeks chopper deal documents from defence ministry

February 27, 2013 20:10 IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation has sought from the defence ministry documents related to the AgustaWestland helicopter deal as it prepares to question suspected beneficiaries about alleged kickbacks received in the Rs 3600 crore deal.

The agency has also sought the reply given by Italian firm Finmeccanica to the questions raised by the Ministry, CBI sources said. They said the agency is focusing on the circumstances in which the requirements were tweaked in the defence ministry to allegedly suit the Finmeccanica and its subsidiary supplier AgustaWestland. They said files related to alterations in the helicopter specifications will help the agency in identifying defence ministry officials, which could be questioned by it and who could help it understand the reasons behind the changes.

An agency team is in touch with the defence ministry officials who have been asked to produce these files at the earliest, they said.

The CBI is also likely to seek documents of Indian units of the companies from corporate affairs ministry on the shareholding patterns of -- Aeromatrix and IDS Infotech -- allegedly involved in the case after seeking legal opinion in the matter.

The agency has registered a preliminary enquiry against 11 people including former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi, his three cousins, European middlemen and four companies. Two Indian firms allegedly used to route bribe money are among these four companies.

Tyagi has refuted all the allegations against him.

The agency has also managed to get hold of some documents from Finmeccanica on the basis of which it had started probe in the matter.

The CBI sources said during preliminary enquiry, the agency's powers in summoning and carrying out searches are very limited and it is trying to complete the enquiry as early as possible a clear view of alleged corruption could emerge based on which future course of action would be taken.

In its preliminary enquiry, CBI mentioned allegations that in the procurement process of the helicopters, some middlemen have influenced the deal in favour of a United Kingdom-based company. It is also alleged that an Italy-based company paid commission in terms of several millions of Euros to the middlemen and two middlemen from their share of commission allegedly paid huge sums of money to several Indian nationals through Tunisia and Mauritius route in the garb of engineering contracts with two India-based companies, the enquiry said.

The money, according to the CBI's enquiry, was sent in the garb of engineering contracts with Indian companies – IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix.

Besides the former IAF chief, 10 others including his cousins -- Julie, Docsa and Sandeep Tyagi -- have also been named along with four companies in the enquiry, CBI sources said.

Suspected European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschkhe, advocate Gautam Khaitan formerly associated with Aeromatrix and its CEO Praveen Bakshi, former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi, former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini have also been named.

Besides Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix also figure in the enquiry, they said.

All the suspects and companies named by the CBI in its preliminary enquiry have denied allegations of receiving or giving kickbacks in the deal.

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