Helicopter purchase: CBI registers case against Brigadier for fudging trial records

HelicopterThe acquisition process of 197 helicopters had been cancelled in December 2007 after having been finalised. (PTI)

An Unsigned note recovered from Swiss businessman Guido Haschke has helped the CBI to name a Brigadier working with Army Aviation Corps in a fresh case involving AgustaWestland. As first reported by The Indian Express, the Anglo-Italian firm is already facing charges of corruption in the VVIP chopper scam.

The fresh case was registered after CBI received a new trache of documents from Italy, where a note mentioned that Brig V S Saini had allegedly asked for 5 million Euros to help Agusta. Saini has been charged for allegedly fudging trial flight records of the 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters being procured by the government.

Besides Saini, unknown officers of the Army, Defence Ministry and a private company have been named. The case has been registered under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, including abuse of official position, and Indian Penal Code, including forgery charges.

According to the CBI, Brig Saini was part of the team carrying out trials of competing helicopters in the Light Utility Helicopter category. Army Aviation was looking at purchase of 197 of light helicopters to replace its ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleet, which undertakes reconnaissance and casualty evacuation operations in forward locations and high-altitude areas like Siachen, Ladakh, North Kashmir and Northeast.

The acquisition process of 197 helicopters had been cancelled in December 2007 after having been finalised. The Italian prosecutors found mention of Brig Saini in the documents seized by Italian prosecutors while probing the VVIP chopper scam.

The officer is alleged to have fudged the records of the trial flight of the helicopter to favour the company for which he and other unknown officers have received hefty commission, the CBI alleged.

Italian investigators claimed to have found a document, which claimed the Brigadier allegedly demanded a bribe of 5 million euros in 2010 to swing the contract in favour of AgustaWestland. The company was later eliminated from the race.

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