close

News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

AgustaWestland chopper deal row: CBI playing game trying to involve Congress leaders, says Salman Khurshid

Khurshid on Tuesday said that the CBI has been looking for 'somebody ' who they can hold responsible for the AgustaWestland deal. 

AgustaWestland chopper deal row: CBI playing game trying to involve Congress leaders, says Salman Khurshid

Amid the ongoing AgustaWestland deal row, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid hit out at the CBI alleging the investigative agency of playing a game trying to 'somehow involve Congress leaders in this enterprise'.

In a statement to news agency ANI, Khurshid on Tuesday said that the CBI has been looking for 'somebody ' who they can hold responsible for the AgustaWestland deal. He also alleged that the CBI has been looking in other countries, that are involved in the matter, and have finished their legal proceedings coming to a conclusion. 

"I am very impressed that CBI that is tearing itself apart, screaming and shouting at each other with all allegations of corruption doing the rounds before courts. CBI still finds the time to go looking for somebody who they can hold responsible for Agusta deal and that too after other countries that are involved in the matter have finished their legal proceedings and come to the conclusion," said Khurshid.

"There's nothing against these people except an attempt to put pressure on them to somehow involve Congress leaders in this enterprise. Now that's the game CBI is playing, they're welcome to play it. I hope they've their facts and figure in place to persuade a court," added Khurshid.

Earlier on Tuesday, Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper VVIP deal, was taken to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters after being extradited to India from Dubai, UAE. The CBI took him under custody as soon as he arrived at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport. Michel was accompanied by some CBI, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Ministry of External Affairs officials. After the immigration procedure, he was taken to the CBI headquarters at south Delhi`s Lodhi Road area.

Michel's name came to the fore after a note was put forth in an Italian court which asked an AgustaWestland to 'target' advisors of Sonia Gandhi to ensure the deal for the helicopters was signed. It named people like then PM Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, Veerappa Moily, Oscar Fernandes and others.

In 1999, the then NDA government had given the go-ahead for the purchase of eight VIP helicopters. Six years later, the UPA government increased the number of helicopters to 12. After winning a second term, the Congress-led government - in 2010, signed a deal worth Rs 3,546 crore with AgustaWestland for the purchase of these helicopters. Till now, there was no foul play suspected and the first batch of three helicopters arrived in the country by 2012.

2012 was, however, also the year when isolated reports began to trickle in of possible kickbacks being paid for the deal. Kickbacks are, in absolutely simple terms, an amount of money paid to someone illegally to ensure he/she can get a certain job done or get an objective met with.

The Pandora's Box burst open in 2013 when the then chief of Finmeccanica - parent company of AgustaWestland - was arrested in Italy on charges of paying kickbacks. It was then that the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) started its own inquiry into the possibility of kickbacks being paid in the chopper deal here in India. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) also got involved by launching its own probe. The massive uproar eventually resulted in the government of the time terminating the contract with AgustaWestland