TIMELINE: Indian officials are 'morons', will take years to track links, middlemen had said

1. Indian helicopter deal sparks corruption row in Italy

- Probe by Italian prosecutors into allegations of corruption against state-backed defence major Finmeccanica casts shadow over the multi-million dollar deal that the company signed with India for 12 VVIP helicopters.

2. Antony orders probe into VVIP copter deal

- The Indian Express brings to light allegations of corruption against Finmeccanica. Defence Minister A K Antony orders probe into the matter. Sources say that Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma has been asked to look into the allegations of corruption in the deal

3. VVIP helicopters: Italian firm says deal above board

- Days after Defence Minister A K Antony orders a probe into allegations of corruption

in the deal, the Italian firm asserts there was no "irregularity" in the deal and that it had not received any notice of an offer.

4. India helicopter deal: Italy probes Euro 51 mn 'payoff'

- In its biggest ever corruption probe into defence agreements, The Indian Express reports that Italy was investigating whether a commission of 51 million Euros was paid by helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland to a Switzerland-based consultant for a deal to sell 12 VVIP helicopters to India

5. Antony seeks report on Italy chopper deal investigation

- A day after The Indian Express reported details of an Italian investigation into commissions allegedly paid for the procurement of 12 helicopters sold to India in February 2010, Defence Minister A K Antony asked for a fresh report on the matter. His ministry said any wrongdoing would attract the strict integrity clause.

6. Italian under probe was active in Indian defence sector

- The consultant whose offices in Switzerland were raided by Italian authorities was an "offsets expert" who has been very active in the Indian defence sector. Guido Ralph Haschke, who claims to provide 'Project Advisory Services', has in the past few years worked with several Indian companies and individuals either interested in investing in Italian entities or hoping to forge offset partnerships with foreign firms that have won Indian defence contracts.

7. Consultant in chopper deal held in Europe

- Police in Switzerland arrests 62-year-old consultant Guido Ralph Haschkea man who was raided by Italian authorities last year for allegedly taking a suspicious 51 million-euro commission in a deal to sell the fleet of high-end helicopters to the Indian government.

8. Get probe details from Italy, Antony tells officials in MoD

- The probe into corruption charges by the Italian authorities takes a serious turn with the Defence Ministry being instructed to get details of the investigation from Rome. Sources said Defence Minister A K Antony instructed officials to write to Italian authorities, requesting for information about the ongoing probe into the 2010 contract for Rs 3,546-crore.

9. Italy probe focuses on UK consultant

- The Italian probe into corruption charges in the helicopter deal focuses on a highly connected British consultant who was allegedly hired by the chopper manufacturer, Agusta Westland, to influence the contract. The consultant, identified as Christian Michel, was being investigated for receiving a portion of the Euro 51 million contract that was given by the manufacturer for Italian businessman Guido Haschke,

10. Lens on chopper firm's India head over commission

- The India head of helicopter manufacturer Finmeccanica comes under the scanner of Italian authorities who tapped his phone conversations with the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,546 crore contract. Italian prosecutors, who were investigating a series of corruption charges against Finmeccanica, tapped the phone of alleged middleman Guido Haschke as part of the probe into the deal.

11. Army officer sought $5 mn bribe: Italy probe

- Italian investigators find what they believe were documents of another tender for Army helicopters that claim an Indian Army brigadier demanded a bribe of $5 million to swing the contract for the firm.

12. Ex-IAF pilot among 3 Indians named in VVIP helicopter probe

- A preliminary report placed in a Naples court names 3 Indians among 15 people being probed by the Italian police in connection with the suspected payment of bribes.

13. MoD asks Italy for info, promises strong action

- A day after last report, the Defence Ministry says it has written to Rome requesting information on the alleged involvement of the officer.

14. In taped conversations, middleman talks about his unnamed Indian boss

- The alleged middleman in the VVIP helicopter deal with Italy has admitted in taped conversations that he laundered money in India and talks about an unnamed Indian from whom he takes orders. The consultant, Switzerland-based Guido Haschke, also expressed surprise in his conversations with colleagues that investigators found out the "correct amount" of commission that was allegedly paid for the deal.

15. Indian officials are 'morons', will take years to track links, middlemen said

- The alleged middlemen in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal bragged that even if Indian investigators probed their role, they would find no money trail as the payments were made in cash, and that they would not be able to identify Sanjeev Kumar Tyagi as the person behind the affair, taped conversations revealed.

16. 'I will tell Indian judges I spent 10-15 million euros on ballerinas, champagne'

- About 10-15 million euros of the suspected kickbacks was believed to have been routed to India and the alleged middleman in the deal apparently planned to tell Indian courts, if he was questioned, that he blew up the money on "ballerinas and champagne", according to taped conversations with the Italian police.

17. Chopper deal kickbacks: 'India changed tech requirements to help Italian firm'

- India allegedly tweaked the technical requirements in the tender to procure 12 VVIP helicopters for the Air Force to help AgustaWestland enter the race, an associate of the suspected middleman in the deal alleges in his confession to Italian prosecutors.

18. Records confirm tender was altered, allowing AgustaWestland to qualify

- In the first corroboration of the findings of the Italian probe into corruption allegations in the VVIP helicopter deal of 2010, it emerges that critical technical requirements in the contract were tweaked by India, allowing Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland to enter the bidding competition.

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