CBI raids Chandigarh firms over VVIP chopper deal

CBI raids Chandigarh firms over VVIP chopper deal

CBI raids Chandigarh firms over VVIP chopper deal

The CBI Wednesday raided the offices of two companies here in connection with alleged kickbacks in the VVIP chopper deal.

The raids, according to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sources, were conducted by teams from Delhi at the offices of Aero-Matrix in Rajiv Gandhi Information Technology Park in Chandigarh and IDS Infotech in Mohali, 10 km from here.

The names of these two companies emerged in the controversy around India's $750-million AgustaWestland chopper deal with Italian company Finmeccanica.

The choppers are for the VVIP squadron of the Indian Air Force (IAF) which ferries the president, prime minister and other top dignitaries.

There are allegations of kickbacks by Finmeccanica to the companies and high-profile people in India to clinch the deal.

The bribe payments, as investigated by Italian probe agency, were allegedly routed to India through IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius. Investigators are yet to establish the curious link between IDS in Tunisia and Mauritius and IDS Infotech here.

The balance sheets of IDS Infotech do provide a link to IDS Tunisia.

Aero-Matrix was set up here in 2007 with Parveen Bakshi as its chief executive officer. Before this, Bakshi was working with IDS Infotech, which has entrepreneur Pratap Aggarwal as its managing director.

Bakshi earlier told the media here: "We are only an engineering service provider (to AgustaWestland). We are not concerned with the (bribery) allegations."

However, one of the two foreign directors of Aero-Matrix, Guido Ralph Haschke, who is Switzerland-based, is being investigated by the Italian agency on bribery charges in the deal.

Aero-Matrix records also show links to Mauritius-based Infotech Design Systems Ltd.

The defence ministry recently initiated action for cancellation of contract for procurement of 12 AW101 helicopters for the use of VVIPs.

The scam came to light when the Italian government arrested Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi for allegedly paying bribes to clinch the chopper deal. The government launched a CBI probe into the bribery charges last month.