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Chopper scam: CBI names ex-air chief Tyagi, 10 others

Last updated on: February 25, 2013 23:07 IST

Armed with documents from Italy, CBI today named former Air Force chief S P Tyagi in its preliminary enquiry into allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal, the second former defence services chief to figure in a scam probe.

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.

The CBI has registered the preliminary enquiry to probe allegations that some "middlemen have influenced the deal in favour" of the Italian company AgustaWestland for the supply of 12 helicopters.

"The CBI registered a preliminary enquiry against the then chief of air staff; five private persons; an Italy-based company and its CEO; a UK-based Company and its CEO; three middlemen and two India-based private firms in the matter of procurement of 12AW 101 VVIP/VIP Helicopters from U.K based company," an agency statement said.

It is also learnt that parent company Finmeccanica paid a commission of seven million Euros (about Rs 50 crore) to the middlemen out of which huge sums were transferred to seven Indian nationals through Tunisia and Mauritius, the enquiry said.

The money was sent in the garb of engineering contracts with two Indian companies -- IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, it said. This is the second instance when a former services chief figures in a CBI inquiry. Former naval chief Admiral Sushil Kumar was named in a CBI case of 2005-06 to probe alleged kickbacks in the purchase of Barak missiles. The case is still under investigation.

The 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 PE, they said. The team of CBI officials, which returned from Italy with some documents from Finmeccanica and public prosecutor, found enough material in them to start its probe in the alleged payoffs of Rs 362 crore in the helicopter deal, they said.

All the suspects named by the CBI in its enquiry have denied allegations of receiving or giving kickbacks in the deal. The sources said they are likely to be called for questioning in connection with the case.

The CBI statement said it is alleged that in the procurement process of the Helicopters, some middlemen have influenced the deal in favour of the UK-based company. It is also alleged that Italy-based company paid commission in terms of several millions of Euros to the middlemen, the statement said, adding the 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 two middlemen are directors in one of India based private companies, in which one private person works as the chief operating officer and he allegedly has a role in channelising money for illegal purposes, the statement said.

Orsi, former chairman of the Finmeccanica, was arrested by Italian agencies on February 15 on charges of paying bribe for the contract. The investigation report by Italian prosecutor had claimed that Hashchke and Gerosa, through the Tyagi brothers and their cousin S P Tyagi, managed first to change the tender details bringing the 'operational ceiling' from 18,000 to 15,000 feet of altitude, thus allowing AgustaWestland (which otherwise could not have even submitted an offer) to take part in the process.

The report also claimed that the duo managed to introduce a comparative flight trial with non-functional engine, thus swinging the deal in favour of AgustaWestland, the only one providing three engine helicopters. It alleged payments were made to Hashchke and Gerosa through a consultancy contract between AW and Gordian Services Sarl and an amount of 400,000 Euros (about Rs 2.8 crore). Out of this amount 100,000 Euros (Rs 72 lakh) were paid in cash to the Tyagi brothers (Julie, Docsa and Sandeep).  

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