CEO of helicopter firm arrested, CBI to probe
The Defence ministry Tuesday ordered a CBI probe into corruption allegations in the Rs 3,546 crore deal to procure VVIP helicopters for the Indian Air Force after the CEO of the Italian firm supplying them was arrested for his suspected role in arranging bribes to bag the contract.
Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica group, was arrested by Italian authorities Tuesday morning and arrest warrants were also issued for the two Switzerland-based middlemen who allegedly paid bribes in India — Italian nationals Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. Britain-based consultant Christian Michel has also been named in the chargesheet.
Orsi was arrested for his alleged role in arranging bribes amounting to 51 million euros to sell 12 AW 101 choppers to the IAF. The Indian Express was the first to report the scandal and had detailed the alleged nexus of middlemen involved in the deal in a series of reports last year.
Hours after the arrests, the Defence ministry issued a detailed statement which said that it had tried to get information about the probe from Italy and Britain — the contract was signed with AgustaWestland, UK —but had been unsuccessful. The ministry decided to ask the CBI to take over the probe due to the arrests.
"Since no specific input has been received so far from the two governments, MoD has decided to refer the case to CBI for inquiry," the statement said. "The contract signed with AgustaWestland includes specific contractual provisions against bribery and the use of undue influence as well as an Integrity Pact."
With the CBI taking over the case, the focus is expected to turn on the Indians named in the Italian probe for their alleged role in the kickbacks. Besides the two Italian middlemen, the preliminary report filed by Italian prosecutors had named an Indian businessman, Sanjeev `Julie' Tyagi, as an accused in the case.