Policy

Chopper scam: former Air Chief Tyagi arrested

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on December 09, 2016

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Brother Sanjeev, lawyer Gautam Khaitan also in CBI custody

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested former Indian Air Force Chief Marshal SP Tyagi for his alleged role in the ₹3,767-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, along with his brother Sanjeev Tyagi and Delhi lawyer Gautam Khaitan.

This is the first time that a former service chief has been arrested for corruption in a defence deal. Tyagi was the Air Force Chief from 2004-07.

“They were arrested on the allegations of accepting illegal payments for exercising influence through corrupt or illegal means,” a senior CBI official said.

CBI sources said all the accused had been arrested under Section 120B, Section 420 IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. They were also being interrogated at the CBI headquarters on Friday.

Undue favour shown

The questioning revealed that “undue favour” was shown and that AgustaWestland Ltd accepted illegal vendors through middlemen and relatives, including, Sanjeev Tyagi, alias Julie Tyagi, who is the Air Chief’s cousin. All three will be produced in the Patiala House court on Saturday, sources added.

The total alleged payoffs are estimated to be 12 per cent of the ₹3,767-crore VVIP chopper deal, sources said.

Both the Tyagi brothers and Khaitan had been questioned for several days earlier this year by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). During the interrogations, it was revealed that the former Air Chief had met the top management of AgustaWestland’s parent company, Finmeccanica, during his tenure.

So far only three helicopters have been delivered, and the deal has now been cancelled.

On December 1, a non-bailable warrant was issued against British national Christian Michel James and summons were sent to a company called Media Exim Pvt. Ltd. The firm was set up jointly by one RK Nanda and Michel.

The government, through its order dated July 3, 2014, had put on hold all procurements from six companies figuring in the FIR registered by the CBI. They are Agusta Westland International Ltd, UK; Finmeccanica, Italy, and its group companies, including subsidiaries and affiliates; IDS, Tunisia; Infotech Design System (IDS), Mauritius; IDS Infotech Ltd, Mohali; and Aeromatrix Info Solutions Pvt Ltd, Chandigarh.

In July, a two-member team was sent to Milan for a four-day visit to probe the case based on Letters Rogatory (LR) sent by the CBI through the External Affairs Ministry.

The CBI had sent LRs to eight countries — Italy, the UK, British Virgin Islands, Tunisia, Switzerland, Singapore, the UAE and Mauritius.

Published on December 09, 2016
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