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CBI names Tyagi in Italy copter enquiry

New Delhi, Feb. 25: Former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi is a beneficiary of pay-offs in the VVIP chopper deal, according to the preliminary enquiry registered by the CBI.

Two cousins of the air chief marshal (retired), namely Julie Tyagi and Dosca Tyagi, have also been named in the preliminary enquiry.

The preliminary enquiry was registered after the CBI sent two officials and the ministry of defence (MoD) a joint secretary to Italy last week. The officials returned over the weekend.

The CBI and the MoD have obtained documents used in a court in Italy that are said to establish that middlemen were paid kickbacks by AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica so that they could clinch the Rs 3,550 crore deal, sources said.

The agency is pretty sure that apart from Tyagi and his relatives, a few other Indians were involved in the deal. Their names are expected to emerge during the probe.

Last week, CBI sleuths and officials from the defence and external affairs ministries met Italian prosecutors and the judge in the case. The agency sought details of the kickbacks especially those paid to Indians. This information has not been provided so far.

However, some details may be shared with the CBI once the local elections in Italy conclude.

Italian investigators averred that Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini were taken into custody only to prevent them from destroying crucial evidence.

The CBI had earlier appealed to the defence ministry to provide information about the controversial chopper deal but all it got was news clippings from India and Italy. The agency’s appeal for help was also turned down by Interpol since the CBI is yet to register a case.

In a reply to the defence ministry’s show-cause notice, the AgustaWestland managing director Raymond Edwards said the reports of bribery in securing the Rs 3550 crore contract for 12 VVIP helicopters were based on preliminary investigations in Italy that were at a “pre-trial” stage and have “not been tested in court”.

Defence ministry sources said a preliminary report by the CBI, the report of joint secretary (air acquisitions) Arun K. Bal’s findings in Italy and AgustaWestland’s reply to the show-cause notice will be considered before the government decides on the future of the contract.