Goa Governor B V Wanchoo, who resigned Friday, was examined by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at Goa as a “witness” in the Rs 3,546- crore VVIP chopper deal with AgustaWestland.
Wanchoo’s questioning came a week after former West Bengal Governor M K Naray-anan was quizzed by the age-ncy. Narayanan demitted office Friday and left Kolkata for Chennai. Wanchoo sent his resignation after he received a call from Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami Friday morning, asking him to resign, official sources said. The resignation of Wanchoo, a former chief of the elite Special Protection Group, will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for acceptance.
A CBI team which flew from Delhi questioned Wanchoo in Panaji and recorded his statement for its probe into allegations of bribery of Rs 360 crore, said CBI. Despite the Law Ministry opinion suggesting that the Governors enjoyed immunity in this case, the CBI felt the need to record statements of Wanchoo and Narayanan as both had participated in the meeting in 2005 that allowed key changes in the technical specifications of the chopper.
The agency had registered a case against former IAF Chief S P Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen in the case. The allegation against the former Air Chief was that he had reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter so that AgustaWestland was included in the bids. Tyagi has refuted the allegation against him.
The CBI has alleged reduction of the service ceiling – maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally -allowed the UK-based firm to get into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids. The CBI claims the parameters regarding the height at which the helicopter can fly as well as the flight evaluation were changed in a manner that enabled AgustaWestland to clinch the deal vis-a-vis its competitor Sikorsky.
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Friday registered a money laundering case against former IAF chief S P Tyagi and others to probe proceeds of crime in the alleged kickbacks paid to procure the flying machines. ED had earlier registered a case under foreign exchange laws in this deal but later decided to slap a criminal case to track the “illegal money” of the bribe, alleged to be over Rs 360 crore.
In its FIR registered under stringent section of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the agency has booked Tyagi, his family members, European nationals Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke and four companies—Italy-based Finmeccanica, UK-based AgustaWestland and Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix. A total of 13 entities have been named by ED in the case.
ED will now initiate the process of recording of statements of these people even as it dispatches Letters Rogatory to a few European countries seeking their cooperation. The agency also claimed that they have zeroed in on some of the immovable and movable assets of the accused which will be attached under the provisions of the laundering laws.
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