VVIP chopper deal probe: CBI to grill former-IAF chief SP Tyagi, his 2 brothers today; major set-back for Sonia Gandhi?
Tyagi would be confronted today with fresh evidence and documents obtained by CBI.
New Delhi: Amid controversy over alleged corruption in Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is all set to question former IAF chief SP Tyagi, along with his two brothers on Monday.
According to Times Now, Tyagi would be confronted today with fresh evidence and documents obtained by CBI.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had earlier summoned Tyagi in connection with the its money laundering probe relating to the case.
This was the first time that the ex-Chief Of Staff of the Indian Air Force was summoned by the central agency.
The summons to Tyagi were issued under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
However, CBI had questioned Tyagi earlier in the same case and he had then denied any wrongdoing.
On Saturday, former Deputy chief of Indian Air Force JS Gujral was quizzed for 9 hours by the investigative agency probing the case. Gujaral was one of the many senior officials who were part of the meeting in 2005 to decide the height ceiling for the choppers.
Sources indicated Tyagi's questioning is necessary in the light of a recent judgement of a Milan (Italy) court which 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 for VVIP purposes.
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 money laundering FIR.
It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan and had also filed a charge sheet last year.
ED is probing the case in which 70 million Euros (about Rs 360 crore) were allegedly paid as kickbacks.
The agency had earlier submitted that Khaitan was on the board of Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix which was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in the chopper deal.
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 (IAF) over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.
In view of the corruption charges, India has also barred Finmeccanica and its group companies from participating in any new programme of the defence ministry.
The central agency has also issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to ten countries in this case.
VVIP chopper deal probe major set-back for Congress president Sonia Gandhi?
Right from the beginning of the probe, the ruling BJP has been making allegations of involvement of top leaders of the Congress in the chopper deal.
The VVIP chopper deal relates to a 2010 decision of the the UPA government to buy 12 helicopters from Italian manufacturer, Finmeccanica, a unit of AgustaWestland.
CBI, in 2013, had registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs, including the President and the then prime minister.
Recently, firing a fresh salvo at Sonia Gandhi over the VVIP chopper scam, BJP had even claimed the then defence minister AK Antony had objected to relaxations extended to AgustaWestland regarding field trials but was "overridden", and suggested that the Congress chief was behind it.
However, there is so much circumstantial evidence to show that the role of Congress bigwigs was there in the approval of contract and its operationalisation.