The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested former Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi in connection with the AgustaWestland scam, — considered as one of the biggest defence scam after Bofors.
Gautam Khaitan, a Delhi-based lawyer, and Sanjeev Tyagi, alias, Julie Tyagi, were also arrested by the CBI in this connection.
The trio was arrested on the charges of accepting illegal gratification for exercising influence through corrupt and illegal means during the deal.
The role of the UPA government and former IAF chief Tyagi in the scam is reportedly validated by an Italian court in the purchase of 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for IAF for Rs 3,600-crores for VVIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister.
On April 8, the Milan Court of Appeals ruled that the Rs 3,565 crore AW contract involved payoffs to Indian officials. Overturning a lower court judgement that said corruption could not be proved, the court of appeals found Giuseppe Orsi, the powerful former chief of Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini — who headed chopper division AW— guilty of international corruption and money laundering.
As per reports, prosecutors in the court produced a note purportedly written by Christian Michel to Peter Hullet, India head of the Anglo-Italian company, in 2008 revealing that he had advised the people handling the VVIP helicopter deal on the company’s behalf to target people close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, including the prime minister and some of her closest advisers, to win the contract.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on May 6, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the UPA regime left no stone unturned to award the VVIP chopper deal to AgustaWestland.
Parrikar said the previous regime’s action against the deal was forced by circumstances and the inquiry into it was not initiated until it was unavoidable.
The Defence Minister said Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, who are being repeatedly questioned by the CBI in the case, are small people and asked the government to find the big names who received the kickbacks in the deal.
Parrikar further said that procurement procedure was not followed in the deal, adding there were also discrepancies in the base price.
The Defence Minister further said UPA regime knew about the scam in February 2012, but still three helicopters were delivered in December. He added that the CBI registered an FIR in the matter in March 2013, but the copy of FIR was not forwarded to the Enforcement Directorate till December.
Parrikar told the Upper House that the Enforcement Directorate took notice of the case only in July 2014 after the BJ-led NDA came into power.