‘I will tell Indian judges I spent 10-15 million euros on ballerinas,champagne’

IAF’s VVIP helicopter contract: middleman apparently planned to tell Indian courts this 'fact'.

Written by Manu Pubby | New Delhi | Published: October 31, 2012 2:54:07 am

About 10-15 million euros of the suspected kickbacks in the IAF’s VVIP helicopter contract is believed to have been routed to India and the alleged middleman in the deal apparently planned to tell Indian courts,if he was questioned,that he blew up the money on “ballerinas and champagne”,according to taped conversations available with the Italian police.

Discussing his line of defence in India if he was called to answer suspected corruption charges in the Rs 3,546 crore deal for AgustaWestland choppers,Guido Haschke,the alleged middleman,is believed to have said that he would deny the money was paid to anyone in India. Italian investigators suspect the deal involved total kickbacks of 51 million euros.

With his defence that the money was “wasted”,Haschke is quoted as saying that Indian courts could at the most prosecute him for tax evasion. The alleged conversation with his business associate Carlo Gerosa took place on March 1,according to Italian police documents submitted in a Naples court.

gerosa (pretending he is a judge questioning Haschke): Tell us,you collected the money,where have you kept it?

Haschke: Eh I collected it,it’s my f***ing business where I have kept it,I didn’t pay anyone.

G: Ok,but where have you kept it?

H: I wasted it on ballerinas and champagne. And then,then..

G: Yes,but 10-15 million euros on ballerinas and champagne..

H: Ballerinas and champagne. They anyway have to demonstrate I took it [the money..

G: Well,given that these kind of instructions came from us,me,(lawyer) Gautam (Khaitan),everybody..

H: We wasted it,we wasted the money,we didn’t pay anyone. They can say we are guilty because we didn’t pay taxes.

In the alleged conversations taped by Italian authorities,it has also been mentioned that Haschke talked about paying off the India head of AgustaWestland,Paolo Girasole,who has been named as the key link to the Indian VVIP chopper contract. The following conversation allegedly took place on March 3.

Haschke: It’s true that right now I am very annoyed to give 10,000 to Paolo,frankly.

Gerosa: You know they have nothing at all. But,you should also say…

H: Because we should keep him close.

G: Because all activities in India depend on him.

H: Sure.

G: Without him we can’t rely…

H: I am not saying we don’t have to give him…but I am a bit annoyed..

— after some time —

G: Anyway Paolo,in this moment..without Paolo we would not have the India thing. You,for a very long time,cannot go,until everything is set and calm. I won’t go to India,who knows for how many months. The only trait d’union we have is Paolo,who now,he comes and goes,we can meet in Rome,every month,when he comes back from India he tells us everything. Fortunately Paolo is there,otherwise…

Haschke is also recorded as allegedly discussing a contract they had signed with the helicopter manufacturer that would have given them access to business opportunities – possibly in the form of offsets – for getting the Indian contract. Haschke also boasts that there is no way investigators can trace the contract back to him. This alleged conversation took place on March 5 with AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini.

Haschke: Yes,it was a contract like if we take this job.

Spagnolini: if we take it..

H: We give you some work.

S: Exactly.

H: Work..

S: Not “if we take this job,we give you a commission”.

H: We give you some work worth.

H: The beauty of all this is that there is no way,not even the agency contract,that can lead to me.

S: Fine,but we need to have a logic.

The 568-page report by Italian investigators also has a section which discusses in detail how the deal was initially fixed in India and how Haschke got in touch with AgustaWestland before being allowed to swing the deal for the firm. While New Delhi has asked Rome for information on its probe in the case,AgustaWestland has said that it has not committed any irregularity in the deal.

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