VVIP chopper scam: CBI questions Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi

CBI today questioned Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi in connection with alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore helicopter deal purportedly sent to the company from abroad in the garb of engineering contracts.

CBI sources said Bakshi was questioned in detail about the structure of its company, relations with alleged Italian middlemen Guido Ralph Hashcke and Carlo Gerosa and the engineering contracts with Mauritius-based firms.

The sources said Bakshi's name reportedly cropped up during conversations recorded by Italian investigators which formed the basis of his questioning.

The report submitted by Italian investigators shows that Hashcke and Gerosa allegedly received commission worth crores from Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland for swinging the VVIP helicopter deal in favour of the company.

A substantial portion of this money was allegedly routed to Indian companies -- IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix -- camouflaged as payments for some engineering contracts from Tunisia and Mauritius, the report says.

The report also says Hashcke and Gerosa were managing Aeromatrix.

The money trail given by Italian authorities alleged that reported bribe money was paid to Tunisian firm which was managed by Haschke and Gerosa.

The money was further routed from Tunisia to India and Mauritius allegedly in favor of Aeromatrix, it says.

Bakshi has denied all the allegations levelled against him and his company. He even denied having links with former IAF Chief S P Tyagi who has been named in the preliminary enquiry (PE) registered by CBI.

Bakshi has been named in PE in which it has named Tyagi, his three cousins, European middlemen and four companies -- Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix. All these suspects have refuted allegations against them.

Chopper deal: India to seek specific info from AgustaWestland

After rejecting AgustaWestland's reply to its show cause notice, the Defence Ministry is writing to the firm specifically asking about its linkages with software companies allegedly used as a cover for paying kickbacks in the VVIP chopper deal.

... contd.

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