IAF, defence accts officers to help CBI probe in chopper deal

NEW DELHI, Mar 3:  Officials from Indian Air Force (IAF) and Defence Accounts Department will join a special CBI team formed to probe the allegation of payment of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal as the investigating agency prepares to examine suspects named in its Preliminary Enquiry (PE).
Sources in the agency said an IAF officer would be joining the CBI team along with some officials from the Controller General of Defence Accounts to examine the documents collected from Milan as well as from Italian-based Finmeccanica, parent company of AgustaWestland helicopter.
The special CBI team, to be assisted by the Income Tax department sleuths as well, will study the necessity of changing the specification of the helicopter besides the money trail, they said.
Former IAF chief S P Tyagi and his three cousins are among 11 individuals named in the PE registered by the CBI on February 24 besides four companies.
Suspected European middlemen Carlo Garosa, 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.
The CBI will examine some of the officials from the Aeromatrix and IDS Infotech, the sources said, adding that Tyagis including Julie, Dosca and Sanjeev Tyagi, cousins of former IAF chief, will be questioned at a later stage.
The Defence Ministry has handed over the documents to the CBI which includes replies from the AgustaWestland to its show cause notice issued besides some internal communication of the ministry pertaining to the deal.
In its PE, registered to probe kickbacks in the 12 AW-101 VVIP/VIP helicopters from AgustaWestland deal, CBI will investigate allegations that some “middlemen have influenced the deal in favour” of the Italian company.
It is also learnt that Italian 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 of engineering contracts with two Indian companies – IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, it said.
All the suspects have refuted the allegations.
The investigation report by Italian prosecutor has claimed that Haschkhe and Gerosa, through the Tyagi brothers, managed first to change the tender details, in a way to favour, modifying the ‘operational ceiling’ from 18,000 feet to 15,000 feet altitude, thus allowing AgustaWestland (which otherwise could not have even submitted an offer) to take part in the tender.
The report also claimed that the duo managed to introduce a comparative flight trial with non-functional engine, thus facilitating AgustaWestland helicopters, the only ones which had three engines, swinging the deal in its favour.
The sources said during PE, the agency’s powers in summoning and carrying out searches are very limited and it is trying to complete the enquiry as early as possible. (PTI)


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