M A I N   N E W S

VVIP copter deal put on hold
Italian prosecutors name IAF ex-Chief Tyagi, his cousins in kickback case
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 13
Defence Minister AK Antony today said the government would blacklist and take legal action against any recipient of bribe in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP helicopter deal. In Italy, prosecutors submitted a warrant in a court alleging that former IAF Chief SP Tyagi and his three cousins were in cahoots to tweak the deal to suit Italian aerospace major Finmeccanica.

The former IAF Chief, however, today categorically rebutted allegations of having changed any air staff qualitative requirements (ASQRs) during his tenure (2004 to 2007) to suit the Italian firm. The legal papers in the Italian court (translated copy with The Tribune) run contrary to this claim and show that Tyagi met agents of the Italian company at the offices of his three cousins and also during social events like weddings.

Even as Antony let his mind be known, the Ministry of Defence has decided to put on hold the receipt of the remaining nine of the 12 helicopters. Three helicopters were received in December 2012. India will invoke the penalty clause mandated under the integrity pact. “We will not lose a single pie. We can get back the entire amount paid to the vendor (Finmeccanica),” Antony said in the morning.

“We are not bothered about who the companies are, how strong they are. Everything depends on the CBI inquiry. The moment we get a report from the CBI, whoever is found guilty, Indian or foreigner, we will take the strongest action against them. They have to pay the price for the lapses. Nobody will be spared,” he said.

When asked about the integrity pact, he said, “Our integrity pact is foolproof. Any vendor signing an integrity pact cannot get away. They are legally bound.”

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi was arrested in Italy on Monday for allegedly handing out bribe to secure contract for his company. Italian prosecutors said Orsi hired US-born Guido Ralph Haschke to lead dealings in India to secure the contract.

Haschke and his partner Carlo Gerosa, prosecutors said, had close ties with the Tyagi brothers. Around 400,000 euros (Rs 3.2 crore) were given as consultancy fee to Haschke and Gerosa. “Of this, 100,000 euros (Rs 72 lakh) in cash were given to the Tyagi brothers,” prosecutors said in the 62-page warrant. “The money went to the brothers to pressure Indian officials and help doctor the tender terms to favour the specification of AgustaWestland’s helicopters,” they added.

The report of the persecutors submitted in the office of the judge for preliminary investigations narrates how the Russian Mi-17, Eurocopter and US Sikorsky were edged out of the VVIP helicopter deal. Around Rs 350 crore (51 million euros) were allegedly “spent” on the deal.

What Italian court papers say

Michel Christian, a consultant to AgustaWestland, corresponded with cousins of former IAF Chief SP Tyagi

The agreement was with the Tyagi family, but the money was handed over only to his cousin Juli Tyagi

Witness identified as ADR says: “Towards the end of 2006, I again met Tyagi (Air) Marshal at the office of his cousins in Delhi

After Tyagi retired (March 2007), we met at the home/office of Tyagi brothers and during a wedding in India, ADR adds

Tender was changed to accommodate AgustaWestland by lowering the required altitude limit at which the helicopters could operate

Terms and conditions of the tender were changed to introduce an engine failure flying test

This favoured AgustaWestland as its helicopters were the only ones with three engines

The moment we get a report from the CBI, whoever is found guilty, Indian or foreigner, we will take the strongest action against them. They have to pay the price for the lapses. Nobody will be spared. 

AK Antony, Defence Minister





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