Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar
New Delhi: In a significant development in the AgustaWestland bribery case, Swiss authorities have arrested Guido Ralph Haschke, the alleged middleman in the VVIP helicopter deal, Italian media reported.
63-year-old Haschke, who claims to provide ‘project advisory services’, could be brought to Italy by next week in case he prefers not to appeal against extradition proceedings. As per an Italian news agency, a court in Switzerland has ruled that Haschke can be extradited to Italy.
Haschke was briefly arrested by Swiss authorities in October, 2012 in connection with the probe but he denied any wrongdoing.
The Italian authorities have alleged that Haschke took a multi-million euro commission in the deal worth Rs.3,600-crore to sell high-end 12 AW 101 choppers to the Indian government for use by VVIPs including the President and Prime Minister.
VVIP AgustaWestland helicopter supply contract is also under probe by the CBI for alleged kickbacks paid to Indian officials. Former IAF chief S P Tyagi, his cousins Sanjeev alias Julie, Rajeev alias Docsa and Sandeep, European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke are among 13 individuals named in the CBI FIR as accused.
Tyagi has denied allegations of any kickbacks.
"Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa (both middlemen) managed to send 5.6 million euros through Mohali-based IDS Infotech and Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix Info Solutions Private Ltd to India and kept the remaining amount of about 24.30 million euros received from AgustaWestland with themselves in the account of IDS Tunisia," according to the CBI FIR in the case.
The Italian prosecutor who carried out the preliminary inquiry here has alleged that the CEO of Finmeccanica, the parent company of the UK-based AgustaWestland, had used services of middlemen to bribe Indian officials.
The Indian probe agency has alleged that during his tenure as the IAF chief, Tyagi and "with his approval" the Air Force "conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m as mandatory (although) it was vehemently opposing the same on grounds of security constraints and other related reasons".
With agency inputs