VVIP chopper scam: Tyagi in trouble over Italy junket

PTI5_2_2016_000023A Former Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi arriving at the CBI headquarters in New Delhi on Monday,in connection with alleged corruption in the 3,600 crore AgustaWestland choppers deal | PTI Photo

More details have emerged from the ongoing CBI investigation against former IAF chief S.P Tyagi in the VVIP chopper scam. He was subjected to intense grilling by the investigating agency for about 10 hours on Monday and was confronted with new evidence over his possible involvement in the scandal.

The latest reports have further implicated Tyagi and his kin in the scam-tainted chopper deal involving Italian firm Finmeccanica and its subsidiary Agustawestland.

The investigating agency has found that Tyagi had travelled to Italy thrice after his retirement and was hosted over a lavish opera night in Milan by Agustawestland officials, said media reports.

Tyagi allegedly had a meeting with European middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa in 2012 in Milan even as a probe by Italian authorities into the scam was underway.

CBI sources have further claimed that Tyagi allegedly had met Agustawestland middlemen seven times between 2004 and 2007. He had allegedly met the Agustawestland middlemen in two capacities first as air vice-chief and then as chief of Air Force.

Tyagi has been accused of altering the specifications of a defence deal to favour Agustawestland, besides helping the middlemen to pay kickbacks to beneficiaries in India, including some top politicians.

Money trail

CBI is now probing the financial transactions of Tyagi and his kin. According to reports, the former IAF chief has significant financial interests in at least “three companies with suspicious flow of funds.”

“The three companies have been identified with their initials 'Vanshi', 'Anuras' and 'Shavan' and are registered in India,” reported Times of India. The report added that the agency has sought the inputs from Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) over financial transactions of these companies in India and overseas.

Tyagi's cousins, Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep, have also been accused of playing important roles in the scandal.

“In 2004, the Tyagi brothers, who made acquaintances with Guido Hasheesh and Carlo Gerosa, signed a consultancy contract with Gordian Services Sarl in Tunisia. After May 2004, 1,26,000 euros and 2 lakh euros after February 2005, camouflaged as consultancy fee, were paid to Tyagi brothers and some of the money was allegedly paid off to Tyagi himself,” said a DNA report.

A Delhi-based lawyer, Gautam Khaitan is also under the scanner for allegedly facilitating the transaction of Rs 350 crore bribe money. He will be summoned for questioning along with Tyagi's cousins in coming days.

Tyagi headed the air force between December 2004 and March 2007, during which he allegedly tampered with mandatory requirements of luxury choppers for VVIPs.

Initially, the required height of flying capacity of the choppers were 6,000 meters. However, later it was brought down to 4,500 metres that allowed Agustawestland to take part in the bidding process and eventually bag the Rs 3,600-crore chopper deal.

Tyagi has denied any wrongdoing and has made himself unavailable to media queries. CBI, meanwhile, has asked him to appear before it again for questioning on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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