CBI to question cousins of former IAF chief again

CBI  to question cousins of former IAF chief again

After questioning of alleged middleman Guido Haschke in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal, the CBI will soon begin a fresh round of questioning of cousins of former IAF chief S P Tyagi to find out the end use of money paid to them.

Haschke, who was questioned first by Defence Ministry officials and later by the CBI, had told the probe agency that money was given to Tyagi brothers for the engineering works and meeting other administrative requirements in India, official sources said.

Arrested in Switzerland in September last year and later extradited to Italy to face the trial, Haschke had denied that he had ever met the former IAF Chief or handed over any money to him to clear the VVIP helicopter deal in favour of AgustaWestland.

Tyagi refused to comment on the development, saying, "I have been saying this earlier as well. I do not wish to say anything on this issue."

A case was registered by CBI against Tyagi and 12 others for alleged cheating, corruption and criminal conspiracy in the Rs 3600 crore VVIP helicopter deal in which Rs.360 crore was said to have been paid as kickbacks.

Now the CBI will be summoning his cousins--Sanjeev alias Julie and Rajeev alias Docsa and Sandeep for a fresh round of questioning as Haschke has alleged that he had paid money to them for engineering works at IDS Chandigarh, paying rents and meeting administrative expenses in India.

They have been questioned last year during which they had denied any wrongdoings.

CBI has alleged in its FIR that middleman Haschke through his Tunisia-based company Gordian Services Sarl entered into several consultancy contracts with AgustaWestland from 2004-05 onwards and "almost on back-to-back basis he also made consultancy contracts with the Tyagi brothers (former IAF chief's cousins)". 

Under the cover of these contracts, Haschke allegedly sent Euro 1.26 lakh (about Rs 1.06 crore)  and two lakh (about Rs.1.68 crore) to Tyagi brothers.

"Besides these two remittances, Tyagi brothers also received some unquantified sum of money from the middlemen (Haschke and another middleman Carlo Gerosa). The inflow of remittances to Tyagi brothers and softening of IAF's stand on service ceiling of the helicopter closely match in terms of time," the FIR claimed.

The allegation against the former Air Chief was that he had reduced the height of the VVIP helicopters so that AgustaWestland is included in the bids.

However, the decision was taken in consultations with the Special Protection Group and other top officials of the Prime Ministers Office but the agency did not get permission to question either M K Narayanan or B V Wanchoo who are Governors of West Bengal and Goa respectively.

It alleged that reduction of service ceiling--maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally--allowed UK-based AgustaWestland to get into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids. 

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