A month after the Indian Air Force had in April 2004 rejected British firm AgustaWestland’s bid for supply of VVIP choppers due to its flying capability being lower than the mandated 6,000 m, it allegedly paid three of its Indian middlemen 1.26 lakh euros to use influence to get the eligibility norm relaxed, found a CBI probe.
Later, the firm allegedly also paid 2 lakh euros to the three middlemen — Tyagi brothers Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep who are cousins of former air force chief SP Tyagi — in February 2005. “The payments to the three Indian middlemen were made in the garb of a consultancy contract fee via a firm controlled by two European agents of the AgustaWestland firm, Tunisia-based Gordion Services. The Tunisian firm was linked to the European agents Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa,” said a CBI source.
The source said, “Haschke and Gerosa, with the help of the Indian middlemen could make inroads in the IAF and could influence the consistent IAF stand on the mandatory service ceiling of 6,000 m.” He said, “The IAF in March 2005 eventually agreed to reduce the service ceiling to 4,500 m, which brought back AgustaWestland in the fray.”
Sanjeev Tyagi, however, denied any wrongdoing on his part. “The CBI’s case against the former air chief SP Tyagi, and the three of us, is a bundle of lies. Whatever money we had received was purely fee for our consultancy contract works,” he told HT. The former air chief could not be contacted despite attempts.