New Delhi, Mar 13 (Agencies): The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday registered a case against retired air force chief SP Tyagi and 12 others for alleged cheating and criminal conspiracy in the purchase of high-performance helicopters for political leaders.
Two new names, which were not part of the agency's preliminary inquiry, have also been included in the first information report or FIR on the Rs 3,300-crore contract. They are Satish Bagrodia, a brother of former Union Minister Santosh Bagrodia, and Pratap Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of IDS Infotech.
Tyagi, who retired in 2007, is the first chief of the Indian Air Force to be named in a corruption or criminal case by the CBI.
CBI sources said provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act have also been cited in the FIR.
The agency has also named four companies--Italy-based Finmeccanica, UK-based AgustaWestland and Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix in connection with the case.
After filing the FIR, the CBI sent 12 teams to carry out coordinated searches at 14 locations across posh localities of Delhi, NCR and Chandigarh, at the residences of Tyagi, his cousins, and offices of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix among others, they said.
AgustaWestland has denied paying bribes in the $750 million deal to supply a dozen AW 101 helicopters.
Italian police have arrested the head of Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, in connection with the case.
India has asked AgustaWestland to explain accusations by Italian prosecutors that millions of euros in kickbacks were paid through middlemen to clinch the deal. It has also frozen payments for the luxury helicopters pending an inquiry by the CBI and has said it is seeking to cancel the deal.
The sources said suspected European middlemen Carlo Garosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschkhe, advocate Gautam Khaitan, formerly associated with Aeromatric, and its CEO Praveen Bakshi, former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi, former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini Tyagi--Julie, Docsa and Sandeep have also been named in the FIR.
After carrying out its preliminary enquiry for nearly 16 days, the agency gathered evidence to register a case in connection with alleged payment of a Rs 362 crore bribe to swing the 12-helicopter deal in favour of AgustaWestland, CBI sources said.
They said the agency has got some documents from Italy and files from the Defence Ministry that indicate criminal conspiracy to make alterations in the requirement of helicopter specifications which suited AgustaWestland.
Last week, the agency questioned Tyagi, his cousins Julie, Docsa and Sandeep, and Gautam Khaitan, Praveen Bakshi and Bagrodia, the sources said.
All the accused have denied allegations against them.