Italian prosecutors in the VVIP chopper deal have produced in court a budget drawn up by two key middlemen,which purportedly lists initials of Indian politicians and designations of bureaucrats,besides those of IAF officers,who it says would need to be handled for the deal to come through.
This is the first time that references to Indian officials other than IAF officers have figured in the investigations into the alleged corruption in the deal. No evidence has,however,surfaced yet to suggest payoffs were made to any of these individuals,either in accordance with this budget or otherwise.
The document is in the hand of Swiss businessman Guido Haschke,who has confessed to having written it during a meeting with British middleman Christian Michel in 2008. Prosecutors have presented it in court as a key piece of evidence to make the case that kickbacks of over 51 million euros were generated in the deal.
The note,which has been accessed by The Sunday Express,has three sections under which initials of politicians,designations of IAF personnel,and positions of bureaucrats respectively have been listed. Haschke has confessed in court that he drew up the list based on Michels assessment of what would be needed for the operation in India.
More evidence in the probe the details of which were first reported by The Indian Express is expected to be revealed in court in coming days.
Under the heading POL Guido Haschke explained in court that this referred to Indian politicians there are two references. One is to AP against which 3 million Euro has been listed. The other is FAM explained by Italian investigators in other documents as Family against which 15/16 million Euro has been listed. It is not clear if Haschke has explained in court what AP and FAM refer to.
Under the heading BUR explained as bureaucrats in court by Haschke six abbreviated designations have been listed. Five are key posts in the defence ministry DS,JS AIR,AFA,DG Acquisition and another Gen. The sixth abbreviation in the list is CVC. A total of 8.5 million Euro has been budgeted under the BUR head.
Under the third heading AF (Air Force),four abbreviations have been mentioned. Two are PDSR,and DG; the other two are not clear. Details are awaited on whether Haschke who was arrested earlier this year,and whose confession to investigators last year produced several clinching clues has revealed what the abbreviations mean.
During court proceedings on Friday,Ennio Amodio,defence lawyer for Giuseppe Orsi,the former Finmeccanica CEO who has been accused of generating bribes in the contract,contended that nothing written in the sheet was actually ever done,and it could not,therefore,be shown as proof of corruption.
In India,the anti-corruption probe into the deal is going slowly. The CBI has filed an FIR naming several Indian businessmen and former Air Chief S P Tyagi and his cousins. There is no indication yet that the CBI has probed the role,if any,of politicians and bureaucrats in fixing the deal.
Meanwhile,defence ministry officials said that the Italian court has granted permission to the Indian side to cross-question Haschke. Sources said that the cross-questioning would be done by Italian lawyers hired by India on December 13.