The court verdict had led to a huge political uproar with the ruling BJP accusing the former Cong-led UPA govt of indulging in corruption.
New Delhi: In a major breakthrough into the multi-crore AgustaWestland VVIP copters deal case, the CBI on Friday arrested former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi on charges of alleged corruption. Apart from Tyagi, the investigating agency also arrested his cousin Sanjiv alias Julie Tyagi and Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan.
The former IAF chief, Sanjiv Tyagi and Khaitan were called in for questioning at the CBI headquarters on Friday and were arrested when they failed to answer the questions that were put to them satisfactorily, say official sources, adding that they were giving conflicting versions during questioning. The arrested accused will be produced before a designated court on Wednesday. This is the first time a former IAF chief has been arrested by the central probe agency.
CBI had questioned Tyagi, who retired as the Air Force chief in 2007, extensively in the past for the alleged irregularities in the Rs 3,600 crore copter deal over allegations that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore were paid for finalising the deal. Earlier in January 2014, the government had cancelled the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP copters to the Air Force over allegations of bribery. The CBI alleged that in a bid to facilitate the deal for AgustaWestland, Tyagi allegedly influenced the decision to reduce the minimum operational ceiling from from 6,000 to 4,500 metres.
Allegations into the case had first surfaced in 2011 when Italian prosecutors claimed that bribes were paid for procuring 12 high-end VVIP choppers to be used by President, vice-president, Prime Minister and others. In April this year, a Milan Courts of Appeals had indicted Tyagi for receiving kickbacks. Others charged by the Milan court included former CEO and chairman of Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi and former CEO of AgustaWestland Bruno Spagnolini.
The court verdict had led to a huge political uproar with the ruling BJP accusing the former Congress-led UPA government of indulging in corruption. The AgustaWestland copters were to replace the existing VIP copter squadron, which had been purchased from the erstwhile Soviet Union. Former defence minister A.K. Antony had ordered an inquiry into the entire deal following which the case was subsequently transferred to the CBI.
During the course of investigations, the CBI had sent judicial requests to eight countries — Italy, the United Kingdom, British Virgin Island, Tunisia, Switzerland, Singapore, the UAE and Mauritius to get details of money trail of the kickbacks, which landed on the Indian shores allegedly in the form of off-set contracts to IDS Infotech in Chandigarh.
CBI had questioned Tyagi for the alleged irregularities in the Rs 3,600 crore copter deal over allegations that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore were paid for finalising the deal
CBI said that Tyagi influenced the decision to reduce the minimum operational ceiling from from 6,000 to 4,500 metres which brought AgustaWestland into the running for the deal when its choppers were not even qualified for submission of bids
In April 2016, a Milan Courts of Appeals had indicted Tyagi for receiving kickbacks. Others charged were former CEO and chairman of Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi and former CEO of AgustaWestland Bruno Spagnolini.