VVIP chopper scam: Italy court points finger at ex-IAF chief S P Tyagi

Annexures show money budgeted for ‘distribution among decision makers’

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: April 27, 2016 1:49 pm
Tyagi-759 Former Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi

The Italian Court of Appeals has observed that there are “unmistakable indications regarding corruption of an Indian officer”, identified as the cousin of Tyagi brothers — pointing at Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, the then Chief of Air Staff who allegedly reduced the ceiling height of Agusta Westland choppers.

The former IAF chief’s name figures prominently in the 225-page judgment by the Italian court.

The annexures and submissions attached to the judgment also point at close to Euro 30 million worth of commission being budgeted for distribution among decision-makers in India. These included politicians, bureaucrats and Air Force officials, among others.

The document takes cognizance of various conversations between middlemen Carlos Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guildo Haschke — reported earlier by The Indian Express. In these conversations, the three discuss “Mrs Gandhi” as the driving force behind the “VIP” and her closest advisers Ahmed Patel and Pranab Mukherjee as being “the aim of the British high commissioner” in the VVIP chopper race.

The judgment reads: “Ultimately, there are no elements of certainty to affirm this beyond any reasonable doubt that the reduction in the operating rate was chosen contrary to the public (duty) and that Marshal Tyagi…made specific acts contrary to his duty; it remains anyway the wrongfulness of his conduct, for having offered to cooperate with AW [Agusta Westland] in economic operation which prohibited all forms of mediation, and for having received large compensation in relation to its institutional activity…”

The judgment, in Italian, notes, “…this form of corruption certainly falls into the category of conduct penalized by ‘ art. 322 bis, c. 2 n. 2, C.P (sic).

“So, in the absence of contrary indications, it must be concluded that the reward bestowed to ‘Tyagi family’ for their work in support of AW in relation to the race of the Government [of] India for military helicopters amounts to €. 10,500,000.”

A note titled “budget expenditure items” on the ninth page also indicates the amounts the middlemen earmarked for distribution among Indian decision-makers. The handwritten note mentions the amounts against officials at various appointments in “AF”, mentioned elsewhere in the document as Air Force, “Bur” for bureaucrats, and “Pol” for politicians, which lists the initials AP (mentioned elsewhere in the judgment as “It corresponds to Ahmed Patel”) and “family” (referring to the Tyagi family).

The note lists “Dch”, arguably pointing towards Deputy Chief, “DG Maintt” meaning DG Maintenance, “JS Air” for Joint Secretary Air, “DG Acq” for DG Acquisition — these are purportedly some of the appointments to whom the “budgets” were to be directed.

The judgment refers to a letter dated March 15, 2008 from middleman Christian Michel, a fugitive, to Peter Hulet, then India region sales and liaison head of Agusta Westland, created specifically for the chopper deal. It reads: “Dear Peter, since Mrs. Gandhi is the driving force behind the VIP, she will no longer fly with MI8 … Mrs. Gandhi and her closest advisers are the aim of the High Commissioner, senior advisor Prime Minister Manmohan Singh obviously the main figure, then there’s Ahmed Patel Secretary “.

From Express Archives: Read in detail about the VVIP chopper deal

CBI seeks MEA help to get court order

The CBI has approached the Ministry of External Affairs to get a copy of the Milan court’s order in the Agusta Westland helicopter deal. The court in its recent order had confirmed that bribe money in the chopper deal made its way to various Indian officials.

While the agency had completed the domestic part of its probe, sources said that judicial requests sent to eight countries were still pending. They added that further action was possible after getting a copy of the order passed by the Milan Courts of Appeal, which is equivalent to a high court in the Indian legal system. Once the order is received, the CBI will get a translation done before taking note of the observations made by the court, sources said.

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