AugustaWestland deal: CBI to examine Andhra Governor ESL Narasimhan

The CBI is likely to question Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan as part of its investigation into the alleged kickbacks paid by Anglo-Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland to procure a 3,600-crore contract to provide 12 helicopters for VVIPs.

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Last Updated: Jul 08, 2014, 13:48 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is likely to question Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan as part of its investigation into the alleged kickbacks paid to the Indian officials by Anglo-Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland to procure a 3,600-crore contract to provide 12 helicopters for VVIPs.

The central probe agency has earlier questioned two governors - MK Narayanan of West Bengal and BV Wanchoo of Goa – in connection with the case.

Both were interrogated last week as witnesses by the CBI and they had resigned after that.

The deal for the helicopters, struck in 2010, was cancelled by the government last year.

Narasimhan was the head of the Intelligence Bureau in 2005 when the officials tweaked the technical specifications for the helicopters it wanted to buy, allowing AgustaWestland to qualify. Narayanan was National Security Advisor at the time and Wanchoo was head of the Special Protection Guard or SPG, which handles security for VVIPs.

Finmeccanica`s then chief executive was arrested in February last year for allegedly paying bribes to secure the deal, embarrassing the government led by Dr Manmohan Singh, and triggering a CBI investigation.

The national auditor has said that the government had initially stipulated that the helicopters should be able to fly to an altitude of 6,000 metres (19,685 feet), which meant that AgustaWestland could not compete since the AW101 was certified to fly only to 4,572 metres (15,000 feet).

The CBI alleges that bribes were paid, among others, to former Indian Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, to have that changed.

The retired Air Force chief has denied any wrongdoing. So has AgustaWestland and its parent company, Italian defence giant Finmeccanica.