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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

For kickbacks, arms middlemen used non-existent deals

Charu Sudan Kasturi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 15, 2013
First Published: 00:17 IST(15/2/2013) | Last Updated: 02:02 IST(15/2/2013)

Defence contractor AgustaWestland used the controversial 'Mauritius route' to channel kickbacks to the family of former air chief SP Tyagi for the Rs. 3,700 crore VVIP chopper deal.

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Italian prosecutors have said that the British subsidiary of Italian arms giant Finmeccanica routed bribes worth Rs. 400 crore to its middlemen and to the Tyagi family using non-existing contracts with multiple front companies.

According to documents filed by prosecutors all the kickbacks were sent through Mauritius to minimize chances of getting caught.

In a conversation on November 11, 2012, key middlemen Ralph Haschkhe and Carlo Gerosa talked about picking Mauritius to route the money to India, to minimise any risk if Italian prosecutors were to send letter rogatories to Mauritius for details of the bribe money.

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"Mauritius takes time (to respond)," Gerosa told Haschkhe. 

Finmeccanica initially paid middlemen euro 400,000 (Rs 2.8 crore) in 2005 to bribe Indian officials, before subsequently funneling money in tranches to the Tyagi family and to Gautam Khaitan, an Indian lawyer whose name has surfaced in the investigations.

To avoid laws preventing companies from paying off arms dealers, Finmeccanica transferred the bribe money to three companies - IDS India, IDS Tusinia and Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix - for "non-existing contracts", the investigators have concluded.     

The contract with IDS India was signed on March 1, 2007 and with IDS Tunisia in early 2008. The identity of IDS India remains a mystery.


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