VVIP chopper deal will be scrapped if any wrongdoing found: Antony

AugustaWestland

Grappling with yet another scandal involving bribery in the acquisition of expensive helicopters for use by VVIPs, the government on Wednesday promised that the guilty would not be spared, even as former Air Chief S P Tyagi, whose name figures in the allegations, pleaded innocence.

A day after ordering the CBI probe, Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters that strong action will be taken against those found guilty.

"Nobody will be spared whatever may be the consequences," he told reporters on the alleged Italian chopper scam.

The name of Tyagi has reportedly figured in the alleged scam, but he has stoutly refuted the bribery charge against him.

Media reports have suggested that Tyagi was allegedly beneficiary in the kickbacks to the tune of 10 per cent of the Rs 3600 crore deal.

"I am innocent. These allegations are totally baseless and I am denying them categorically," he told reporters, while welcoming a probe into the "scandal", Tyagi said.

The former Air Chief, however, admitted that he had met Carlo, purportedly named as middleman in the Italian probe report, at his cousin's place.

"But when you say you have contact with him, the answer is no. What connection could I have with him. The entire process of evaluation, trials, contracts etc took place in 2010," he said.

Another scam has unfolded with the arrest of the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company yesterday. The company is suspected of paying bribes of about Rs 362 crore in India to get orders for helicopters to ferry Indian VVIPs, prompting the government to order a CBI probe.

Antony said CBI has been asked to give an early report on its probe into alleged kickbacks in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal.

"Once we get the preliminary inquiry report from CBI, strongest action will be taken against those found guilty," he said.

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