In a major setback to investigation agencies, Italy refused to extradite Carlo Gerosa, an alleged middleman in AgustaWestland bribery scandal, saying it did not have any mutual legal assistance treaty with India.
After the recent development, the Central Bureau of Investigation approached the external affairs ministry, citing provisions under which he could be extradited to India even in the absence of legal assistance treaty between the two countries, sources said.
Carlo Valentino Ferdinando Gerosa, 71, an Italian and Swiss national, was believed to be a key player in the bribery scandal as the process of manipulating the specifications for VVIP helicopter deal allegedly started after a meeting between him and cousins of former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi, they said.
Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice against Gerosa, they said.
He was apprehended by authorities in Italy on the basis of the RCN in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case.
Gerosa was one of the three alleged middlemen wanted in this case and his interrogation and statement was very important for both the ED and the CBI who were probing the case.
On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore for securing the deal.
It was alleged that the three middlemen, Gerosa, Guido Haschke and Christian Michel, “managed to” make inroads into the IAF in order to influence and subvert its stand regarding reducing the service ceiling of helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m in 2005 after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties.
The ED and the CBI had also issued Letters Rogatory to multiple countries to gather more leads and evidence in this case.
Letters Rogatory are requests issued by courts on the request of an investigation agency when it wants information from another country.