Former Air Force chief SP Tyagi was produced before the CBI court in Delhi’s Patiala House court complex Saturday, a day after he was arrested for alleged kickbacks in AgustaWestland case. Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev Tyagi, and a Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitanm were also produced before the CBI court.
In the proceedings so far, CBI has sought 10 days custody to question the accused further.
In a sudden and first of its kind action, the central probe agency CBI on Friday evening arrested the former Air Force chief in the sensational Rs 450 crore bribery case in the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters from UK-based AgustaWestland during the UPA-2 government.
71-year old Tyagi, who retired in 2007, was called for questioning at CBI Headquarters along with his cousin Sanjeev and Chandigarh-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan. The trio were taken into custody after nearly four hours of grilling, CBI sources said.
The CBI had filed the FIR three years ago in 2013 to probe the matter after allegations surfaced in Italy where the prosecutors levelled corruption allegations against the chief of Finmeccanica — the parent company of AgustaWestland — in the deal.
“It was alleged that Chief of Air Staff (CAS) entered into criminal conspiracy with other accused persons and in 2005, conceded to change IAF’s consistent stand that service ceiling of VVIP Helicopters 6000 mtrs was an inescapable operational necessity and reduced the same to 4500 meters,” the CBI said addressing the press on Friday.
“It was revealed during investigation that such undue favours were allegedly shown to said UK-based private company by accepting illegal gratification from the accused vendors through middlemen/relatives including his cousin and an advocate etc.,” the CBI spokesperson added.
In the media interviews during the last three years, Tyagi and his cousin had strongly denied having taken any bribes to influence the deal.
Rejecting the allegations, Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Tyagi had said the change of specifications, which brought AgustaWestland into contention, was a collective decision in which senior officers of Indian Air Force, SPG and other departments were involved.
CBI had claimed that Khaitan accepted having taken money from European middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa but insisted it was not kickbacks to influence the deal.