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'Signora Gandhi' appears 4 times in verdict

Shemin Joy, April 28, 2016, NEW DELHI, DHNS: 1:08 IST
Congress president Sonia Gandhi. PTI file photo
A 225-page judgment on AgustaWestland case in an Italian court has put the focus on corruption in government dealings in India.

The trache of documents cited in the judgement is no music to the ears for the Congress.The judgement of Milan Court of Appeals, which sentenced Finmeccanica's former chief Giuseppe Orsi and its helicopter subsidiary AgustaWestland's former CEO Bruno Spagnolini up to 4.5 years in jail, has mentioned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, senior party leaders Ahmed Patel and Oscar Fernandes. The judgement has also mentioned former National Security Adviser M K Narayanan.

In its judgement, the court said there was “reasonable belief that corruption took place” in the VVIP helicopter deal. India wanted to procure 12 VVIPs helicopters from AgustaWestland, UK, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica in Italy, and a bribe of about Euro 58 million was claimed to have been paid to Indian leaders and officials. The court order names former Air Force chief S P Tyagi for receiving bribes in the case.

There is a mention of “Signora Gandhi”, which is considered to be Sonia, in the judgment four times. The name came as the judgment referred to a document seized from middlemen Christian Michel to Agusta official Peter Hulet where it was mentioned that “Signora Gandhi” was the “driving force”.

Singh is mentioned in a 2013 letter by Guiseppe Orsi, former Agusta CEO, from jail. The former prime minister was mentioned twice in the judgment. There is no mention of these leaders taking bribe but they have been described as influential people who should be approached for a green signal for the deal.

According to the judgment that cited some seized handwritten documents, some 15 to 16 million Euros were paid to “Fam”, which could be to former air chief, 8.4 million Euro probably to bureaucrats, six million Euro probably to Air Force linked people and three million to “AP”, a politician.

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