Chopper scam: CBI files charge sheet against ex-IAF Chief Tyagi

Chopper scam: CBI files charge sheet against ex-IAF Chief Tyagi

CBI has claimed that the reduction of the service ceiling, or the maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally, allowed AgustaWestland to come into the fray



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New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday filed a charge sheet in a city court against former Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief S P Tyagi and nine others in the Rs4.5 billion (Dh258 million) AgustaWestland VVIP chopper bribery case.

Besides Tyagi, the agency has named nine others including his cousin, Sanjeev alias Julie, advocate Gautam Khaitan and Michel James, the alleged middleman in the VVIP chopper deal.

The charge sheet, which has also named retired Vice Chief of Air Staff air marshal J.S. Gujral, was filed before Special CBI judge Arvind Kumar just before the rising of the court.

Seventy-one-year-old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by the agency in connection with the case; they are currently on bail.

The CBI has booked all the accused under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code relating to cheating and criminal conspiracy and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Tyagi is the first Chief of the IAF to be named in a corruption or a criminal case by the CBI.

Others named in the charge sheet include alleged European middlemen in the deal, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke.

The first information report also names former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini, former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi and the Anglo-Italian company, AgustaWestland as accused in the case.

CBI has alleged that during his tenure as Air Chief, Tyagi and, with his approval the Air Force, conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres as mandatory, which it had been earlier vehemently opposing on the grounds of security constraints and other reasons.

CBI has claimed that the reduction of the service ceiling, or the maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally, allowed AgustaWestland to come into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not qualified for submission of the bids.

It also alleged that AgustaWestland had managed to introduce a comparative flight trial with non-functional engines and eventually succeeded in getting the contract for supply of 12 AW-101 VVIP Helicopters from the Defence Ministry, mainly due to softening of the IAF on the service ceiling issue after S P Tyagi took over as its chief.

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