File-AP Photo/ Aijaz Rahi
Chopper Deal: CBI Names Ex-IAF Chief As Suspect

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 PE, CBI sources said here.

CBI has registered the PE 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 today registered a Preliminary Enquiry against the then Chief of Air Staff; five private persons; Italy-based company & its CEO; UK-based Company & 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 aagency 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 PE 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 PE 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 U.K based company.

It is also alleged that Italy-based company paid commission in terms of several millions of Euros to the middle men, 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 middle men are directors in one of India based private companies, in which one private person works as Chief Operating Officer and he allegedly has a role in channelizing 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).

The Defence Ministry may send another letter for seeking more clarifications from the Italian firm on the charge of bribery against it.

Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and other officers, including Joint Secretary Arun Kumar Bal, deliberated on the evidences and documents collected by them in the case.

Bal had been sent to Italy by Sharma to collect as much evidence as possible after the scam came to light following the arrest of former CEOs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland in the case.

The Italian firm had replied to its show cause notice on Friday in which it denied having paid any bribes or kickbacks to secure the Rs 3,600-crore deal.

In its letter, AgustaWestland has told the Defence Ministry that it is preparing to deliver the remaining nine helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and "expects to be paid in a timely manner."

The Anglo-Italian firm said that even in Italy, the investigations are in the "pre-trial" phase and the allegations mentioned in the show cause notice are based on "unsubstantiated" media reports.

AgustaWestland also cited the fact-sheet issued by the Defence Ministry on the acquisition of the 12 choppers saying the Ministry itself has clarified that the process for changing the specifications for the altitude were changed in 2003 itself.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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4/D-65
Feb 26, 2013
11:54 AM

More than punishing the culprits and recovering the bribe money, it seems the bigwigs of CBI are interested in extracting their share of the pie from the Indians named by Italian prosecution.

What about Neta-ji without whose tacit approval such scams are impossible,,,money must be gone to big political party.....Tyagi is just a medium. ...20 years case will run on his name..and then he will die.....and that's the end.

Shyamal Barua, Kolkata
3/D-39
Feb 26, 2013
06:08 AM

 Looks like a "cut and paste" job from the Italian investigation.

Bonita, Chennai
2/D-25
Feb 26, 2013
04:40 AM

Not to worry - it should take minimum 15 years for the trial to move from the lower courts itself.

The former Army chief could have at least taken a decent bribe, instead of a paltry 72 lakhs in a 3600 crore deal!

Male Unblocked, Chennai
1/D-11
Feb 26, 2013
02:06 AM

Smells rotten!

Anwaar, Dallas
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