CBI widens probe into AgustaWestland scam, to quiz ex-IAF officer today
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is now aggressively pursuing probe in AgustaWestland scam involving Congress bigwigs. The agency is believed to set up investigative efforts to nail the accused in the Rs 3600-crore scam. According to reports, the agency may summon high-profile individuals including politicians and former government officials.
The CBI and ED has already issued summons for the questioning of retired Air Marshal JS Gujral and retired Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, a prime accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case. While Tyagi has been asked to appear before the agencies in Monday, deputy chief of air staff, air marshal JS Gujral will present himself before the officials today itself.
It is said that Gujral had attended a meeting with the National Security Adviser in March 2005 where the specifications of choppers, to be used by VVIPs, were alerted. MK Narayanan, former Governor of West Bengal, was the NSA then. In June 2014, the CBI had recorded Narayanan’s witness statement in connection with the case.
The allegation against the former Air chief is that he reduced the height of the VVIP helicopters so that AgustaWestland could be included in the bids. ED had registered a PMLA case in this regard in 2014 and named 21 people including Tyagi in its money laundering FIR.
Reports say that top CBI officials are in touch with the government officials after the Milan court announced its verdict convicting the former CEOs of Finmecannica and AgustaWestland for corruption and fraud in the deal.
The report also mentioned that there is broad consensus at the top government levels that the agency be provided all support to expedite its probe into the matter.
ED is probing the case in which 70 million Euros (about Rs 360 crore) were allegedly paid as kickbacks for securing the deal. On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 choppers to the IAF.
The VVIP chopper deal is once again in news from last few days after an Italian court referenced middlemen mentioning top Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh.
Meanwhile, James Christian Michel, another accused middleman in the chopper deal, has offered himself up for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI. In an interview to a leading daily Michel claimed he had no hand in the helicopter scam and never signed any document in this regard. He also rubbished the reports that he paid huge amount to Indian officials to buy favours.