AgustaWestland: Former IAF chief's brothers, lawyer questioned

The three Tyagi brothers were questioned for over eight hours at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters in Delhi. 

New Delhi: The CBI questioned three cousin brothers of former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi for the second consecutive day on Saturday along with a city-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan in connection with the alleged payoffs in the Rs.3,600-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal.

The three Tyagi brothers - Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep - were questioned for over eight hours at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters in Delhi. Khaitan was questioned for the fourth consecutive day on Saturday.

The CBI sources said the agency has asked S.P. Tyagi, who was questioned from Monday-Wednesday, to come to the agency`s headquarters again on Monday for further questioning. He was also questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday.

Apart from S.P. Tyagi, the CBI has also called Pratap Kumar Aggarwal, the chairman of IDS Infotech Ltd (India), and Praveen Bakshi, chief executive officer of Aeromatrix Info Solution Pvt Ltd, on Monday to quiz them in the Agusta case.

Firms Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech Ltd (India) and Aeromatrix India are the accused companies booked by the CBI in the First Information Report (FIR) lodged in March 2013 in connection with the AgustaWestland case.

S.P. Tyagi and 13 others, including his cousins and European middlemen, have also been named in the FIR.

The former IAF chief has been accused in Italy and India of helping AgustaWestland win the chopper contract by reducing the flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres (15,000 feet). The Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned S.P. Tyagi on Thursday in the case.

He, however, has denied the allegations against him and said the decision was reportedly taken in consultation with officials of the Special Protection Group (SPG) and the Prime Minister`s Office. Twelve helicopters were to be bought by India.

Khaitan, who is alleged to have formed shell companies to route the bribe money to India, told CBI that he had taken payments from Augusta middlemen Guido Ralph Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. He has also been a former board member of Aeromatrix.

He was also instrumental in setting up IDS Infotech (Tunisia) -- a subsidiary company of IDS Infotech (India), one of the accused companies.

The source said they have information that "lots of money" was transferred to the account of IDS Infotech Tunisia from some bank accounts in Italy. This was later sent to other countries.

But, the informed sources said, Khaitan did not give clear input about the purpose for which he had received the payments.

The chopper deal resurfaced after an Italian court last month purportedly referred to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh among others in connection with the chopper deal but gave no details of any wrongdoing by the two leaders.

The CBI has told the court that the three Tyagis were associated with Haschke and Gerosa for a long time after they entered into a consultancy with a Tunisia-based company of the two middlemen in 2004.

In January 2013, India cancelled the chopper deal and the CBI was told to investigate the bribery allegations.