The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday filed a chargesheet against former Air Force chief SP Tyagi and nine others in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, PTI reported.
Retired Vice Chief of Air Staff JS Gujral, Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev, advocate Gautam Khaitan, alleged Indian middleman Michael James and European middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke were also named in the chargesheet, which was filed before Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar.
Former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini and Giuseppe Orsi, the former chairman of its parent company Finmeccanica, were also named in the chargesheet. The Italian helicopter manufacturer was also named an accused in the case.
The CBI claimed that Tyagi, during his tenure as the Air Force chief, conspired to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres. Till then, the Air Force had opposed this because of security concerns. This reduction in the maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally ensured that AgustaWestland’s choppers were qualified for the company to submit bids.
The AgustaWestland scam
The AgustaWestland helicopter deal, which had snowballed into a huge controversy, is related to an agreement signed in 2010 to buy 12 helicopters from the Italian firm. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power at the time. The deal was put on hold after Italy arrested the head of Finmeccanica.
On December 9, 2016, the investigative agency had arrested Tyagi and two others for allegedly accepting kickbacks to influence the purchase of the 12 VVIP helicopters. The CBI had said the deal was worth Rs 3,767 crore, of which 12% was paid in bribes. Tyagi was granted bail on December 26, while the others got it on January 4, 2017.
In May 2016, the CBI had said two “suspicious” payments were made to accounts held by the former Air Force chief. The agency also learnt that Tyagi was an owner or shareholder in at least five different companies. He retired from his post in the Air Force in 2007.