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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

‘Brigadier too sought bribes’

Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 16, 2013
First Published: 00:18 IST(16/2/2013) | Last Updated: 00:20 IST(16/2/2013)

With fresh details of the AgustWestland scam coming to light everyday more names from the Indian defence establishment are being brought under the scanner.

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Latest reports say that Italian investigators had found a confidential document mentioning names of two Indian army officials-identified only as Brigadier Saini and Colonel Siddhu.

Brigadier Saini is alleged to have sought bribe money from the Italians.

Saini, who had replaced Siddhu, is alleged to have made contact with the Italians and “offered his services in order to help eliminate the competition” on technical grounds for 0.5% commission (about $5 million).

The investigators suspect the bribe request was for a subsequent helicopter contract for the army.

Meanwhile Colonel Siddhu is allegedly the one who turned the ‘tide of the tests/evidence’ in the favour of the Italians.

The document dated January 18, 2010 just before the evaluation trials for helicopters, which was on January 25, 2010, also brings out the fact that the middlemen knew the composition of the trial testing team which is mentioned in the document as comprising three pilots and one engineer from the Army while two pilots and one engineer were to come from the Air Force.

Investigators unearthed the files during a search at the home of Guido Hasckhe’s mother, who has also been named as an accomplice in the case.

The document also speaks of the French Eurocopter as having problems with night vision and voice recorder in addition to trouble starting a cold engine.

“These features were hidden / silenced in a previous round thanks to the ‘incentives’.”

So far, two persons — Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, the former head of AgustaWestland, have been arrested by the Italian police.

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