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Tyagi faces ED case on copter deal

New Delhi, July 4: Retired air force chief S.P. Tyagi will be investigated in a money laundering case, registered by the Enforcement Directorate against him and three of his cousins after investigators in Italy found prima facie evidence that slush funds totalling euro 21.4 million were routed through shady companies by AgustaWestland.

The Anglo-Italian firm had won the Rs 3,600-crore contract to supply six VVIP helicopters for the Indian Air Force’s Headquarters Communication Squadron that is tasked with transporting the President, Prime Minister and other dignitaries.

B.V. Wanchoo, who resigned as Goa governor later in the day, was interviewed today as a witness in the case. Earlier M.K. Narayanan, who has resigned as Bengal governor, was interviewed by the CBI. Wanchoo and Narayanan were said to have been in a meeting in 2005 that finalised the criteria for the purchase of the helicopters.

At the time the contract was signed, Wanchoo was the head of the Special Protection Group (SPG) and Narayanan the national security adviser. The helicopters were procured by the IAF in consultation with the SPG and the Union home ministry.

The fund transfers were made in seven instalments from 2007 to 2011 and routed through a firm called IDS Infotech that has businesses in Tunisia.

In January this year, former defence minister A.K. Antony scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland.

Tyagi has denied any role and charges that he tweaked the specifications to favour AgustaWestland.