Top 10 facts to know about AgustaWestland scam
New Delhi: The latest revelation in VVIP Chopper scam has put Congress on backfoot after an Italian Court held that kickbacks were paid to Indian middlemen and accused the UPA government of not sharing key information with investigators.
A 225-page judgment of the Milan's Court of Appeals,that found former Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland ex-CEO Bruno Spagnolini guilty of corruption, came back to haunt UPA government as it mentions Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, senior party leaders Ahmed Patel and Oscar Fernandes. The judgement has also mentioned former National Security Adviser M K Narayanan's name.The judgement also refers to a document by middlemen that mentions Signora Gandhi” as the “driving force”
The Court observed that the UPA government showed "substantial disregard" in arriving at the full truth behind the VVIP chopper scandal and did not share critical documents with investigators.
Here is all you need to Know about the VVIP Chopper deal
1) The requirement for VVIP helicopters was raised by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the early 2000s.
2) After rounds of evaluations and changes in requirements, it was only in February 2010 that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government signed a deal with AgustaWestland for the purchase of 12 helicopters (AW-101s) to ferry VVIPs.The deal was valued at Rs 3,700 crore.It beat off competition from US rival Sikorsky to win the contract.
3) The helicopters were meant for ferrying top Indian dignitaries, including the prime minister. The AW-101 helicopteris also used by the President of the US.
Besides enhanced reliability that is provided by its three engines, the helicopter is fitted with advanced electronic equipment that can detect and neutralise threats.
4) In February 2013, the Italian police arrested Giuseppe Orsi, the head of defence group Finmeccanica SpA and Bruno Spagnolini, Ex-CEO of its subsidiary AgustaWestland, on a warrant alleging that they had paid bribes to win the Indian VVIP chopper contract, reported Reuters.
5) Subsequently, the deal was put on hold in February 2013 as the then Defence Minister AK Antony ordered a CBI probe into the matter.By the time deal was scrapped, the company had already delivered three helicopters to the IAF. The tri-engine choppers are presently parked at the Palam airbase in Delhi.
6) Italian investigation reports suggested that Guido Haschke and Christian Michael were the main middlemen in the deal. According to the report filed by Italian investigators in an Italian court, the middlemen had agreed for a 7.5% commission in the Rs 3,700 crore deal. Guido Haschke made references such as “POL,” “AP” and “FAM” in a hand-written note, ostensibly pointing to the initials of politicians and bureaucrats who allegedly had to be “handled.” Former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi and his cousins are among those accused of taking bribes
7) The Controvesry resurfaced after an Italian court reversed the verdict of a lower court that held corruption could not be proved. But the higher court in Milan found former Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland ex-CEO Bruno Spagnolini guilty of corruption and awarded them jail terms.
8) The court said it was "validly proven" that a part of $10-15 million in illicit funds made their way to Indian officials. In its detailed order, the Italian court said payments in cash as well as through wire transfers were made to the Tyagi family — three of the former air chief 's cousins — and a part of them were destined for the officer himself. Tyagi was IAF chief in 2005-07, when the VVIP chopper deal was being processed by air headquarters.
9) It was during Tyagi’s tenure that the altitude ceiling of the helicopters was reduced in the tender from 6,000 m to 4,500 m. He is also accused of increasing the no. of choppers from 8 to 12. However, investigations later showed that the technical specifications had been changed prior to his becoming Chief on PMO orders.Last October, the ED attached five prime residential properties belonging to Sanjeev Tyagi, Sandeep Tyagi and Rajeev Tyagi — all cousins of the former IAF chief — as the “proceeds of crime”
10) There is a mention of “Signora Gandhi”, which is considered to be Sonia, in the judgment four times. The name came as the judgment referred to a document seized from middlemen Christian Michel to Agusta official Peter Hulet where it was mentioned that “Signora Gandhi” was the “driving force”.