AgustaWestland chopper scam: CBI files chargesheet against ex-IAF chief Tyagi, 8 others
Tyagi allegedly conspired to reduce the Air Force’s service ceiling for choppers from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres – thereby helping AgustaWestland enter the bidding process.india Updated: Sep 01, 2017 21:23 IST
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chargesheeted former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi on Friday, nearly nine months after he was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Rs 423-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.
The probe agency also named eight others –Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev alias Julie, Infotech legal advisor Gautam Khaitan, former Air Force vice-chief JS Gujral, former AgustaWestland chief executive officer Bruno Spagnolini, former Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi and alleged middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Guido Haschke and Christian Michel – in its chargesheet.
Three companies – Italy based Finmeccanica, its UK-based subsidiary AgustaWestland and IDS Tunisia – also figured in the document running into around 30,000 pages.
Tyagi, 71, had retired as the Air Force chief in 2007. On December 9 last year, he was held along with Sanjeev and Khaitan on charges of receiving and facilitating bribes in a Rs 3,727-crore deal involving the purchase of 12 AgustaWestland choppers for ferrying senior government dignitaries.
Tyagi is the first former service chief in India’s military history to be arrested or chargesheeted for corruption.
According to sources, the CBI investigation revealed that Tyagi allegedly conspired to reduce the Air Force’s service ceiling for choppers from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres – thereby helping AgustaWestland enter the bidding process. The firm’s choppers are not capable of flying up to 6,000 metres.
The probe also revealed that middlemen from a Tunisia-based company inked several consultancy contracts with AgustaWestland from 2004 to 2005. They then entered into consultancy contracts with Tyagi’s cousin on a back-to-back basis. Investigators allege that the flow of remittances into Tyagi’s account and the softening of the Air Force’s stand on service ceiling happened around the same time.
On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore for securing the deal.
According to the chargesheet, the CBI has been able to establish a money trail worth Euros 62 million (Rs 415.40 crore) from countries like Mauritius, Singapore, the UAE, Tunisia, the UK and the British Virgin Islands. It further alleges that the exchequer would have incurred a potential loss of Euros 398.21 million (approximately Rs 2,666 crore) through the deal signed on February 8, 2010.
The CBI had named 13 people in an FIR filed in March 2013. Besides the ones already mentioned in the chargesheet (with the exception of Gujral), it had identified Tyagi’s cousins Rajeev and Sandeep; former Union minister Santosh Bagrodia’s brother Satish; IDS Infotech managing director Partap Aggarwal; and Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi as the accused in the case.
Apart from Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland and IDS Tunisia, three other companies –Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix, Mohali-based IDS Infotech and IDS Mauritius – also figured in the FIR.
CBI sources said they were still investigating the rest of the accused.