Former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi was questioned by the ED on Thursday, in connection with the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal.
Tyagi arrived at the zonal office of the agency in New Delhi shortly before 11am. Sources said he will be questioned and his statement will be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ex-IAF chief was questioned in the same case by the CBI for the last three days.This is the first time that a former chief of staff of the Indian Air Force has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate.
Agency sources had earlier indicated that it was necessary to question Tyagi after the Milan (Italy) court’s judgement. The Italian court had sentenced Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica’s former chief, Giuseppe Orsi, and the former CEO of the firm, Bruno Spagnolini, on corruption charges in the sale of a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters to India.
Tyagi’s name cropped at various points in the judgement.
The allegation against the former air chief is that he allegedly reduced the height of the VVIP helicopters so that AgustaWestland could be included in the bids.
He took over as the Indian Air Force chief on December 31, 2005 and retired from service in 2007.
ED had registered a PMLA case in this regard in 2014 and named 21 people, including Tyagi in its FIR on the money laundering case. It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman, Gautam Khaitan, and filed a charge sheet last year.
ED had earlier submitted that Khaitan was on the board of Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix, which was allegedly a front firm for financial dealings in the chopper deal.
Tyagi, however, has denied any wrongdoing.
On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force over an alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.
The central agency has also issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to ten countries in this case.