VVIP chopper deal case: NBWs issued against two Italians
New Delhi: A special court today issued non-bailable warrants (NBWs) against two Italian nationals who were alleged middlemen in Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal case after ED said they were required to be interrogated to ascertain the money trail.
Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Jain issued open NBWs against Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke, the two accused, after ED's special prosecutor N K Matta said that their custodial interrogation was required as some new facts have emerged during the probe.
Matta also said that some important documents have been received from the Swiss authorities as well as from Italy and both the accused were required to be interrogated about them. The court, after hearing the submissions, issued the NBWs against Gerosa and Haschke who were named in the case lodged by ED as well as CBI which is running a parallel probe in the matter.
The court had earlier issued open NBW against British national Christian Michel James, an alleged middleman in the deal, on two separate pleas filed by ED and CBI. ED had earlier claimed in the court that Agusta Westland had allegedly paid a “kickback” of around 70 million Euros, out of which around 30 million Euros was paid to James and his firm Global Services FZE, Dubai, while Gerosa and Haschke had cornered the rest.
ED had in July 2014 lodged a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against several persons who were named in CBI's FIR registered earlier. In November last year, ED had filed a charge sheet in the case against businessman Gautam Khaitan and others, including Gerosa and Haschke.
CBI had named a number of persons in its FIR in the case who include former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi. Tyagi, and others, including Gerosa, James and Haschke are among the 13 individuals named as accused in CBI's FIR.
Six companies, including Italy-based Finmeccanica, Agusta Westland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius have also been named by CBI in its FIR.
CBI has alleged that during his tenure as IAF Chief, Tyagi and “with his approval”, the Air Force had “conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6000 metres to 4500 metres as mandatory” to which it was earlier opposed on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons.
It had alleged 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 choppers were not qualified for submission of bids.
CBI had also alleged Agusta Westland managed to introduce a comparative flight trial with non-functional engine and eventually succeeded in getting the contract for supply of 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters from the Defence Ministry mainly due to softening of IAF on service ceiling, after Tyagi took over as its chief.