Former Air Chief S P Tyagi and his cousins were questioned by the CBI for more than four hours Wednesday in connection with the probe into the alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,546 crore VVIP helicopter deal.
Tyagi reached CBI headquarters around 3 pm and was there for nearly four hours after his cousins Julie,Docsa and Sandeep Tyagi were asked to explain their alleged business interests and associations with suspected European middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke.
As first reported first by The Indian Express,Gerosa and Haschke,along with Christian Michel,have been accused by Italian investigators of paying bribes to swing the deal for 12 choppers for the Indian Air Force in favour of Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.
Sources said Tyagi was brought face-to-face with his cousins after the agency apparently found contradictions in their versions about their link to the deal. The three brothers initially denied their interest in the procurement of the choppers,the sources claimed.
However,they are said to have accepted meeting Haschke on several occasions for another business interest. The CBI had earlier questioned executives of Aeromatrix and IDS Infotech,companies through which the alleged bribes were routed from Mauritius and Tunisia in the garb of engineering contracts payments.
The agency has registered a preliminary enquiry and will soon register a case.
In his investigation report,the Italian prosecutor had said Gerosa and Haschke had close contacts with the former Air Chiefs family,particularly his three cousins. It had claimed that Haschke and Gerosa,through the Tyagi brothers,managed to change the tender details,modifying the operational ceiling to 15,000 ft from 18,000 ft altitude,thus helping AgustaWestland qualify for the tender process.
The report also said the duo managed to introduce a comparative flight trial with non-functional engine,again helping AgustaWestland helicopters,the only ones which had three engines,swinging the deal in its favour.
The deal ran into trouble in India after Giuseppe Orsi,the head of Finmeccanica,a state-controlled Italian aerospace company and the parent of AgustaWestland,was arrested on suspicion of paying bribes of about Rs 362 crore in India to clinch the deal,prompting the government to order a CBI probe.
AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini has also been arrested by Italian authorities.