Chopper scam: CBI to send judicial request to Italy
With a view to finalising the charge sheet in VVIP helicopter purchase scam, CBI will send a judicial request to Italy seeking statements of the accused who have been facing trial in that country.
The CBI sources said a detailed questionnaire on various aspects of financial transactions, meetings of alleged middlemen and their interests in Indian and Tunisian companies, among others, would be part of the judicial request.
They said the agency wanted to first get the statements through the judicial request — also known as Letters Rogatory — after which it might seek extradition of the suspects, if needed.
The top executives of Italian firm Finmeccanica and its United Kingdom-based subsidiary AgustaWestland are facing trial in Italy for alleged corruption in supply of 12 VVIP helicopters to India.
The Rs. 3600-crore contract is under probe of Italian and Indian agencies for alleged kickbacks paid to Indian officials, including former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi, to clinch it.
Mr. Tyagi has denied allegations of any kickbacks.
Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, former and current Chief Executives of AgustaWestland respectively, are facing trial in Italy for alleged corruption. Mr. Orsi was heading AgustaWestland when the deal was signed in 2010 and is now the Chief Executive Officer of parent company Finmeccanica.
The statements of both these top executives are important for CBI for finalising its charges which would be levelled in the charge sheet, the agency sources said.
India has become a civil party in the ongoing trial in Italy which helped it in getting court documents submitted by Italian prosecutors in connection with the case.
The CBI needs statements and answers to its queries focusing on its probe so far in the case. The agency will have to corroborate allegations levelled in its FIR, besides piecing together the entire sequence of events in its charge sheet.
It has named both the firms in its FIR in which 11 others including Mr. Tyagi and three alleged European middlemen have also been named for “tilting” the deal in AgustaWestland’s favour in lieu of 51 million euro bribes.
The agency has alleged that the bribes were transferred through a web of Indian and Tunisian softwares firms in the garb of technical contracts.
It has alleged that during his tenure as the IAF chief, Mr. Tyagi and “with his approval” the Air Force, “conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m as mandatory to which it was opposing vehemently on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons“.
According to the FIR, “Haschke Guido and Gerosa Carlo (middlemen) managed to send €5.6 million through Mohali-based IDS Infotech and Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix Info Solutions Private Ltd to India and kept the remaining amount out of about €24.30 million received from AgustaWestland with themselves in the account of IDS Tunisia.”
Both the Indian companies have denied involvement in the bribery scandal.