AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal kickbacks were channelled from Mauritius to India: Report

It has been alleged that bribes were taken in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal.

Updated: May 27, 2016, 22:05 PM IST
AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal kickbacks were channelled from Mauritius to India: Report
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Delhi: The kickbacks in the AgustWestland VVIP chopper deal were in all likelihood routed through an Indian Ocean island, as per a media report.

As per an India Today report, the Enforcement Directorate's chargesheet and the phone intercepts between Agusta middlemen to India's official letters to other countries points towards the fact that dirty money moved from Mauritius.

As per the report, a chargesheet filed by Indian agencies in the Agusta case mentions one Shakil Fakeermahamood who is supposedly the person who allegedly handled the flow of kickbacks through Mauritius.

Shakila handled the kickbacks at the instructions of one of the main scam suspects - Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan.

Khaitan is currently out on bail.

The media group's undercover reporters, who posed as real estate agents, reportedly hunted down Fakeermahamood in Port Louis - Mauritius' capital.

As per India Today, Fakeermahamood is privy to confidential emails from Khaitan and managed his Interstellar Technologies in Mauritius by proxy.

He was also privy to secret transactions in dollars and euros to unknown destinations.

Following is the transcript of the conversation that media group's reporters had with Fakeermahamood and was published by the website: 

R: Sir, we are from India. We have real estate consultancy firm in Gurgaon.

SF: Ok.

R: We are dealing with various clients. One of our clients is into trust. It is based in UK.

R: Sir, our clients have agricultural products business.

Shakil: The best structure would be trustee... you have to give me trust deed. I will know who is the trustee. Then trustee forms Global Business License 1 company in Mauritius and GBL 1 invests in India through an industry which is allowed. Now, there is no issue of tax as there is no income. The trustee is extending itself through investments through assets.

R: So you know Gautam Khaitan, the top lawyer?

SF: Yes, everybody knows him in Mauritius. He was adviser of Financial Services Commission

R: Ok.

SF: He was negotiating on the tax treaty with India. He was... If you take the case of Mr Khaitan, he is a lawyer. Everybody pays consultancy fees.

R: Yes.

SF: The guy who negotiated to get the contract from the Italian company was paid consultancy fees for their work to be done for this thing.

R: Yeah.

SF: You see how it happened. Now, what they will do afterwards because there's a contract everywhere. Everybody is assigned a responsibility. Now, if some money was given... money from... a public servant... Tyagi...

R: Tyagi... Tyagi.

SF: Chief... chief.

R: SP Tyagi, Mr SP Tyagi.

SF: Air-Force officer... Now, if he has received money. We should know... with whom he has received that money. But it was a deal. It was not fictitious from A to Z. There was a contract. I can understand. It is a commercial transaction.

R: According to media reports, Gautam Khaitan looks like mastermind of the deal.

SF: He cannot be the mastermind. He is a lawyer, how can he be the mastermind? 

Once the shell company is formed, the kickbacks money gets funnelled in many ways, like through FDI route in India.  

It has been alleged that bribes were paid in clinching the deal for AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian defence giant Finmeccanica.

The Milan Court of Appeals - equivalent of an Indian high 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 former IAF chief  SP Tyagi at several points.

The allegation against Tyagi is that he had reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft) so that AgustaWestland was included in the bids.

However, this decision was reportedly taken in consultation with the officials of SPG and the Prime Minister's Office including then NSA MK Narayanan, as per PTI.

The deal for the choppers went off track in 2013 when Italy arrested the head of Finmeccanica, which owns AgustaWestland, for paying bribes to secure the deal.

Meanwhile, the BJP has been targeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other leaders on the Rs 3,600 crore chopper deal case during the UPA II regime.

On the other hand, Congress has alleged that it is a political conspiracy to malign the party leadership. 

(With Agency inputs)