Former Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, whose name has surfaced in the VVIP helicopter scam, has admitted having met one of the alleged middlemen but claimed innocence.
"I have met Carlo in my cousins' place but when you say you have contact with him, then the answer is no. What connection could I have with him? I want to tell you that the whole process started after I retired... the entire process of evaluation, trials, contracts took place in 2010," Tyagi told media persons.
The former IAF chief refuted allegations that he was paid bribes to swing a Rs 3,600 crore deal for procuring 12 choppers from Italian firm Finmeccanica to ferry VVIPS.
"I am innocent. These allegations are totally baseless and I am denying them categorically. The deal was signed in 2010 whereas I retired in 2007 itself," he said.
Names of Tyagi's three cousins Julie, Docsa and Sandeep Tyagi have also figured in reports suggesting that they had also a role to play in clinching the deal. He denied that his relationship with his cousins had any business dimension.
Asked if he had changed any specifications for the contract to favour Finmeccanica, Tyagi said the "staff qualitative requirements for the VVIP choppers were frozen in 2003, much before I assumed the office of Chief of Air Staff, and the IAF did not change any requirements after that."
Reports on Wednesday suggested that Italian investigators have alleged in a preliminary inquiry submitted in an Italian court that business conglomerate Finmeccanica bribed S P Tyagi when he was chief of the Indian Air Force to swing the controversial AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal in favour of the company.
After the arrest of Finmeccanica's head in Italy on Tuesday in connection with the controversial deal, the Indian defence ministry ordered a CBI probe into the charges.