Alleged middleman Guido Haschke had "cleaned up" all the documents from his computer related to the VVIP chopper deal mired in allegations of kickbacks, it was revealed today, as an Indian team was set to leave for Italy on Monday to gather evidence in the bribery case.
BJP asks govt to utilize its 'Italian link' for chopper scam probe
But to Haschke's misfortune the documents were retrieved from his computer hard drive along with other papers he had hidden at his mother's home.
According to reports in the Italian media, the investigators termed the information found in his computer drives as a "Pandora's box" where he has noted details of his appointments, his meetings with Indian intermediaries, in Italy and Lugano and several international transactions including that of Finmeccanica.
These documents are being used by the prosecutors in the Italian court Tribunale de Busto Arsizio to build their case in fixing responsibilties of several accused including former Finmeccanica chief Giuseppe Orsi for allegedly paying Rs. 360 crore in kickbacks to bag the Rs. 3,600 crore deal, reports in Italian daily Republica suggested.
"He thought he had deleted everything, buried every track on the big business on behalf of Finmeccanica. He had 'cleaned up' all his computer and he felt calm," the daily said quoting the Italian investigators' report.
It said the prosecutors in the court Busto Arsizio recovered the "computer hard drives of Haschke where the intermediary had recorded the whole story about the sale of helicopters and other business".
"Documents and files that are now on the table of the Prosecutor of Busto Arsizio, Eugenio Fusco, who is trying to rebuild any responsibilities and roles of the protagonists of this 'affair'," it said.
The report said the "fate of Orsi is entrusted to its reading of the documents found in a suitcase that Haschke had hidden in his mother's house and found those files in his computer that he thought he had cleared and reset."
Haschke is alleged to have been appointed by former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi, who has been arrested, for clinching the deal for AgustaWestland in which 51 million euros were allegedly paid as kickbacks. Orsi has denied any kind of involvement in paying bribes for bagging the deal.
A team of CBI and defence ministry officials is leaving for Italy on Monday to verify allegations of kickbacks.
Official sources said the team comprises a CBI DIG, a law officer of the agency, a Joint Secretary-level officer of Defence Ministry and an official of the external affairs ministry.
The team's departure was delayed by a day due to some last-minute formalities which required to be fulfilled before travelling abroad for the purpose of investigation, they said, adding the team would try to meet Italian prosecutors to ascertain the details of the case.
The CBI's decision came after it virtually drew a blank from the Defence Ministry in getting some official inputs regarding alleged kickbacks of Rs. 362 crore in the case.
The CBI also engaged a lawyer in Italy to represent India's case with the Italian government and the local courts to find out the role of Indians in the alleged kickbacks in the Rs. 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal.
Official sources said the assistance of a lawyer was taken to help understand the Italian law and expedite getting documents from the helicopter company.
The lawyer, if necessary, would be approaching the court in Italy for procurement of documents, they said.
The CBI was handed over a letter from the defence ministry seeking a probe by it in the case which has triggered a storm in the country. Attached with the letter were some Indian and Italian press clippings, which the CBI said, could not form the basis for registering a case.
CBI had sought help of Indian Mission in Rome which too has not been able to provide any authenticated court documents to the agency, the sources said.
This was followed by CBI seeking help of Interpol which also expressed inability to provide any help in the absence of any regular case not having been registered by the agency, they said.
The defence ministry had on Saturday sent a team led by Joint Secretary and an Air Commodore of Indian Air Force, who gave a presentation to the CBI about the tendering procedures and various stages while finalising the helicopter deal with AgustaWestland.
However, when pressed by the CBI officials about the kickback allegations, the team could not provide any answers to the sleuths, the sources said.