The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday formed a Special Investigation Team to expedite the handling of a few high-profile cases. To be headed by an additional director, the SIT has been set up to exclusively investigate important cases including the Agusta Westland-VVIP chopper scam and the defaulted loans surrounding beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya. These two will be the first cases the team will take up, officials said.

Additional Director Rakesh Asthana, an IPS officer from the 1984 batch from Gujarat, will lead the team, officials said. Asthana had headed the Gujarat SIT that investigated the burning of the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra in February 2002. He was also involved in investigations into the Bihar fodder scam, PTI reported.

The AgustaWestland helicopter deal, which snowballed into a huge controversy, relates to an agreement in 2010, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was to buy 12 helicopters from the British-Italian firm for around Rs 3,600 crore. The SIT will look into the kickbacks allegedly taken by Indian officials to secure the contract for AgustaWestland, in addition to taking a crack at the chain of cash flow. The team will also look into the diversion of loans Mallya took to run his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.