NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will send a request to the external affairs ministry seeking its help in getting key details on the Rs 3,727crore VVIP Agusta Westland chopper deal bribery case’s money-trail from seven countries.
“The agency’s probe in the chopper deal is substantially over at the domestic end,” said a CBI source. “But for establishing the roles of accused persons and firms in a watertight manner, to stand the court’s scrutiny, details related to the money-trail transactions from several countries are awaited still and will be crucial,” he said.
“Once the agency gets such details, the preparations to submitting a chargesheet will begin. The help of the external affairs ministry therefore will be sought in this regard again,” the source said.
Since March 2013, when the CBI registered a first information report to probe allegations that the choppers’ manufacturers, UK-based AW Limited, used middlemen to bribe influential Indians to tweak the deal in its favour, it has sent Letters Rogatories (LRs) —formal request—to eight countries seeking money-tail transaction details. The CBI LRs were sent via judicial channels to countries including Mauritius, Tunisia, Switzerland, British Virgin Islands, UAE, UK, Italy and Singapore.
“CBI has received a response from Italy and only partial responses from Tunisia, British Virgin Islands and the UK,” said the source. The agency will seek complete details from seven other countries, including the three countries that gave partial replies, and will send reminders to them too.
Referring to the recent order of Italy’s Milan Court of Appeals that convicted AW’s former chief Bruno Spagnolini and its parent Italian firm Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi, for alleged corruption in the deal, the officer said that the CBI will still be required to submit its own evidence as per Indian laws.
“The Milan court’s order increased our understanding in the case, in so far as it was proved that bribes were given and people got convicted for that. Our job is to prove who paid the bribes and to whom,” said the source.