CBI chargesheets ex-IAF Chief Tyagi in AgustaWestland deal

SansadTV Bureau
New Delhi: File photo of former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi who was arrested by the CBI in connection with alleged bribery in the VVIP chopper deal.  Photo - PTI

New Delhi: File photo of former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi who was arrested by the CBI in connection with alleged bribery in the VVIP chopper deal.
Photo – PTI

Former IAF Chief S P Tyagi was today chargesheeted by the CBI in a Delhi Court along with nine others in connection with a bribery case in the Rs 3,500 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

72-year old Tyagi is the first chief of the Indian Air Force to be chargesheeted in a corruption or a criminal case by the CBI.

Besides him, the agency has also chargesheeted retired Air Marshal J S Gujral along with eight others, including five foreign nationals, in the charge sheet filed before Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar.

The court fixed September 6 to peruse the charge sheet in which the Anglo-Italian company, AgustaWestland, is also one of the accused.

CBI is likely to file more documents and annexures in the court on the next date of hearing.

The agency has alleged that there was an estimated loss of Euros 398.21 million (approximately Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for supply of VVIP choppers worth Euros 556.262 million.

Others named in the charge sheet are – Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev alias Julie, advocate Gautam Khaitan, alleged European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Michel James, Guido Haschke, former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini and former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi.

They have been chargesheeted for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC in the case relating to alleged bribery of Rs 450 crore.

Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on December 9 last year by CBI in the case. These accused are currently on bail.

CBI had earlier alleged that during his tenure as Air Chief, Tyagi and, with his approval, the Air Force conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6000 meters to 4500 meters as mandatory to which it was opposing vehemently on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons.

It has claimed that reduction of service ceiling, or the maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally, allowed UK-based AgustaWestland to come into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids.

CBI has alleged that AgustaWestland managed to introduce a comparative flight trial with non-functional engine and eventually succeeded in getting the contract for supply of 12 AW-101 VVIP Helicopters from the Defence Ministry mainly due to softening of the IAF on service ceiling after S P Tyagi took over as its Chief.

This is the first chargesheet in the case by the CBI which came three years after it registered an FIR in 2013 to probe the allegations in the aftermath of the details of the scam emerging in Italy where the prosecutors levelled allegations of corruption in the deal against the chief of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland.

The CBI, in its chargesheet, has informed the court that it has been able to establish money trail worth Euro 62 million (Rs 415.40 crore) from countries like Mauritius, Singapore, the UAE, Tunisia, the UK and the British Virgin Island.

It has alleged that the illegal gratification was brought into India unbder the guise of several consultant contracts European company with group of shell companies created by Khaitan.

The contracts were only “subterfuge” and a mere mode to transfer the illegal gratification for payment the public servants, the CBI claimed in its chargesheet.

Efforts to seek reaction from Tyagi did not fructify as he neither took a call, nor responded to messages.