File-AP Photo/ Rafiq Maqbool
VVIP Chopper Deal: Ex-IAF Chief Refutes Bribe Allegation
Former IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, whose name has surfaced in the VVIP helicopter scam, today 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 reporters.

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 today 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 yesterday in Italy in connection with the controversial deal, the Defence Ministry here ordered a CBI probe into the charges.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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Digression

4/D-37
Feb 14, 2013
09:53 AM

 #2 - The late Brajesh Mishra (who had personal Italian connections) was a Sonia Gandhi friend in Vajpayee's govt - he was the one who helped Rahul gandhi when he was caught in Boston airport with 100,000 dollars unaccounted cash.

My limited point is NDA govt wanted High altitude helicopters but the number, tender etc were all decided during Congress rule and the bribe paid in 2010.

bharat, delhi
3/D-28
Feb 14, 2013
08:06 AM

 The Con-gress will  quite understandably try to shift any blame onto the previous NDA government which demitted office in 2004. They are by some strange logic reponsible for kickbacks in a procurement scam which is said to have started in 2006 (issue of Request For Quotations) and ended in 2010 (signing of contract).

The two basic allegations are that the specs were tweaked to favour AW and that someone was paid for having enabled this happy (for AW) event. According to the Italian investigative report, ACM Tyagi is the person responsible.

1. The specs were changed in 2003, one year before Tyagi took office. Therefore, the first allegation seems prima facie incorrect.  i.e. that Tyagi orchestrated the change to enable AW to tender.

2. Now it is possible that he had indicated an intention to have the 2003 specs changed again to disqualify AW and the payments were made to get him to lay off.

3. The ACM Krishnaswamy (Air Chief in 2003) has stated categorically that the changes made to the initial ASR were at the instance of the PMO (according to Con-gress, Brajesh Mishra) and that the Air Force had no role to play. I have seen three Air Chiefs on TV (the only missing one being Fali Major, a helicopter pilot and the most qualified to talk about the aircraft). No one has seen fit to interview or question anyone who was in the PMO and SPG about there input on why the ASR was changed.

4. The entire focus has been on the Air Force and corruption in defence deals. The AW contract is not a defence deal per se, because the Air Force has no such requirement and the presence or absence of these helicopters has no effect on national security. The end user is the SPG and the PMO (on behalf of the select few who require to travel cocooned in the comfort and security provided by the AW). The Air Force only provides the pilots and maintains the a helos for their users. Crudely put, they provide the chauffeurs and grease monkeys for the maliks.

5. The Air Force's role is to determine which aircraft meet the required parameters by technical evaluation and flight trials. Thereafter, they have no role to play in the procurement process. All financial dealings between the vendors and the purchaser (GOI) are conducted by the MOD. These negotiations were carried out between 2006 and 2010. Why did the MOD mandarins who negotiated the contract agree to pay 10% more than the real price is a question that they will have to answer.

6. I have yet to see any TV channel give a complete timeline. Some dates which I have gleaned are :

2000 - Requirement projected
2003 - ASR frozen
2006 - RFQ issued
2010 - Contract signed.

What happened between these dates? When were the possible contenders identified. When were technical evaluation and trials carried out? Which aircraft made the short list? When did contract negotiations start? 

If Outlook or someone could give a proper timeline, the dramatis personae could be better identified.

One last word. - An ASR is effectively a wish list and the Air Force will ask for everything under the sun (especially as someone else is paying). However, everything is not available in one package or at the price that can be afforded and hence trade offs have to be made and "nice" to have items omitted for the "must" have items.

I do not know if ACM Tyagi is guilty or not. I believe he is and I hope that there will be a proper investigation which will prove his guilt or innocence. Of course I fervently wish for the latter as it will be a sad day, not only for him but for the Air Force and by extension the Army and Navy too if a Chief is found to have accepted bribes. However, if it is proved that he has been paid off (for whatever reason) he needs to get the chop.

I have listed these points above, to put the facts in prospective contrary to the one sided media coverage especially by one anchor (whose volume control is defective) which has made the assumption that because of an Italian investigation report, those named are guilty and presents its facts selectively and in such a manner as to mould public opinion to its own view. (Some of the questions asked of ACM Tyagi were of the "have you stopped beating your wife" category).



 

Bonita, Chennai
2/D-2
Feb 14, 2013
12:18 AM

Bharat, Delhi

 How woderful! You have come out in support of Brajesh Mishra but why? Is it because he is a holy cow?  

Professor and sociologist Ashis Nandy has observed that SCs, STs and OBCs are the most corrupt. So you have to agitate that Brajesh because he is Mishra, cannot be corrupt. 

Have some shame. Remember Shatish Sharma, Sukhram Sharma? Shatish was fined 50 lakhs by the Supreme Court for his corrupt ways of distribution of patrol pumps and LPG distributorships. 

And Sukhram Sharma was sentenced for corruption as Telecom Minister.

Sanket Biswas, Kolkata
1/D-121
Feb 13, 2013
09:27 PM

Tyagi and now Digvijay are blaming Brijesh Mishra for "tweaking the specs" in 2003 so that only Augusta could qualify. 

I wonder if the contract was certain to be awarded, then  why did the Italian defence company give bribesin 2010 to the Congress govt?

bharat, delhi
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