VVIP Chopper deal: CBI questions former IAF chief SP Tyagi
NEW DELHI: The CBI has started questioning former Air chief S P Tyagi at its headquarter in connection with its probe into the alleged corruption in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. The agency had quizzed former IAF Deputy Chief J S Gujral on Saturday in the case.
Both, Tyagi and Gujral were questioned at length in 2013 but the fresh round of questioning was necessitated after recent order of an Italian Court which indicated corruption in the deal.
The Court has given details of how alleged bribes were paid by helicopter maker Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland to Indian officials through middlemen to clinch the deal. The order mentions the name of Tyagi at several points.
The investigating agency had registered a case against Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen in the case.
It had already questioned several bureaucrats including former cabinet secretary B K Chaturvedi and Comptroller and Auditor General Shashikant Sharma who was the then Defence Secretary and the then SPG chief B V Wanchoo.
The chopper deal is also expected to be taken up In Parliament, with the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress and Trinamool asking for a discussion in the Rajya Sabha.
The 3,600 crore deal for a dozen choppers for use by top Indian leaders has resurfaced as a major political scandal after an Italian court judgement last month referred to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – among others – though gave no evidence of wrongdoing by them.
The Italian court, however, accuses former air chief Tyagi of corruption at the instance of his cousins, the Tyagi brothers, who were in touch with middlemen hired by Agusta and its Italian-based parent company Finmeccanica to bribe Indian decision-makers.
Retired Air Marshal Tyagi is accused of helping AgustaWestland win the contract by tailoring specifications. The Tyagi cousins will also be summoned for questioning.
CBI sources allege that specifications for the choppers to be supplied to India for VVIP use were changed at a meeting on March 7, 2005, at the air force headquarters, when Air Marshal Tyagi was chief.The CBI also alleges that the Tyagi brothers, Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep were long-time associates of Agusta middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
Sources say investigations have revealed that it was in 2004 that the Tyagis entered into a consultancy deal with Haschke and Gerosa’s company registered in Tunisia. At that time, investigations suggest, the cousins were certain that SP Tyagi would be the next air force chief and thus in a position to influence the deal.
The CBI says the Tyagi brothers received 1.26 lakh euros after March 2004 and 2 lakh euros after Feb 2005. The money was for “consultation” on paper but corresponded with the changes in specs made by the air force chief, the agency says.