CBI names ex-IAF chief Tyagi and 10 others, 4 firms

FP

The CBI Monday registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) to probe the alleged graft in the Rs 3,546 crore VVIP chopper deal, naming four private companies and 11 people, including former Air Chief S P Tyagi.

The agency is also finalising a lookout circular to prevent the suspects from fleeing the country. Such a circular sends details of a suspect to all border crossings, including airports and ports.

Besides Tyagi, the PE names his three cousins, the CEO of the Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, middlemen Guido Haschke and Christian Michel and four firms including AgustaWestland, the Anglo-Italian subsidiary of Finmeccanica.

The case was filed after the three-member team of CBI and defence ministry officials returned from Italy on Sunday night with "sufficient evidence" to probe the allegations of bribery in the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters.

The alleged nexus between middlemen, Indian agents and representatives of private firms which helped AgustaWestland win the deal was exposed by a series of reports in The Indian Express.

The defence ministry acted after these reports and ordered a CBI probe earlier this month. The ministry's norms prohibit companies from appointing middlemen or agents to secure defence contracts.

"It is alleged that in the procurement process of the choppers, some middlemen have influenced the deal in favour of UK based company AgustaWestland," the CBI's PE said. It also said, based on documents procured from Italian authorities, that Finmeccanica paid commissions worth several millions of euros to middlemen.

It is also alleged that the middlemen - Guido Haschke, Carlo Gerosa and Christian Michel - from their share of the commissions, paid huge sums of money through Tunisia and Mauritius to Indian nationals in the garb of engineering contracts with two India-based companies, IDS Infotech Ltd and Aeromatrix India. Both companies have also been named by the CBI.

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