AgustaWestland deal: How govt was forced to act
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After remaining passive for almost a year after it first came to light, the VVIP chopper deal controversy has gone through a whirlwind in the past six days. The action – which has now finally led to the cancellation of the Rs 3,546 crore contract – started with the arrest of the Finmeccanica CEO Orsi in Italy on Tuesday.
While arrests and investigations reports on the chopper deal have been made in the past, Tuesday's arrest was a turning point as a very detailed account of the latest in the Italian investigation also came out. This was in the form of a 64 page report by the Italian prosecutors that described the case as it stands now.
Besides Orsi's arrest, the Italians also issued extradition requests to Switzerland for the custody of two key middlemen, Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. More importantly, the report had explosive details of the investigations that included the names of Indians alleged to be. The first reaction of the government after the arrest was that it would conduct a CBI probe with Defence Minister AK Antony vowing that `no guilty will be spared'.
However, on Wednesday when the Indian Express broke the story that the report alleged that former air chief sp tyagi had received bribes to swing the deal in favor of the Italians, the government was forced into action with Antony saying that the deal will be cancelled if charges are credible.
The Indian Express also detailed how the kickback money was routed through elaborate engineering contracts that were bogus . The money was routed through Tunisia and Mauritius. By the same evening, Tyagi came on record to say that the technical specifications of the contract – the timing of which is key to the investigation – were made in 2003 when the NDA was in power and were on the directions of the then NSA Brajesh Mishra.