Copter deal middleman held in Switzerland

Last Updated 18 October 2013, 19:30 IST

The middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal, Guido Ralph Haschke, was arrested in Switzerland for allegedly bribing Indian officials.

Haschke was the middleman in the deal involving UK-based AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian defence company Finmeccanica, and will be extradited to Italy where a probe is on in the case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now approached the Indian embassy in Italy seeking fresh details about the case.

Swiss-American Haschke is one of the 13 accused in the FIR filed by the CBI which is also probing the bribery allegations against Indian officials, including former chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) S P Tyagi.

The CBI officials said a letter has been sent to the Indian embassy in Rome seeking details on his custody and the ongoing probe. The agency will also be sending a judicial request to Italy for detailed information on the statements given by the accused who are in the custody of the authorities there.

After studying the documents, they said, the investigators would explore whether to seek his extradition or question him in Italy.

The FIR had claimed that Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, another middleman, managed to send 5.6 million euros through Mohali-based IDS Infotech and Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix Info Solutions Private Ltd to India and kept the remaining amount of about 24.30 million euros received from AgustaWestland with themselves in the account of IDS Tunisia.

The Italian prosecutor, who carried out the preliminary inquiry, has alleged that the CEO of Finmeccanica had used services of middlemen to bribe Indian officials.

The investigative agency has alleged that during his tenure as the IAF chief, Tyagi, and “with his approval” the IAF, “conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres as mandatory (although) it was vehemently opposing the same on grounds of security constraints and other related reasons.”

The Comptroller and Auditor General said in its report in August that the Defence Ministry had set the benchmark price at an “unreasonably high” Rs 4,877 crore, while the manufacturer had quoted Rs 911.5 crore less. The ministry also deviated from the laid down procedures during the “entire process”.

(Published 18 October 2013, 19:30 IST)

Follow us on