VVIP copter scam: Ex-IAF chief admits meeting middleman
Former IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, whose name has surfaced in the VVIP helicopter scam, on Wednesday admitted having met one of the alleged middlemen but claimed innocence.
"I have met Carlo in my cousins' place but when you say you have contact with him, then the answer is no. What connection could I have with him. I want to tell you that the whole process started after I retired... the entire process of evaluation, trials, contracts took place in 2010," Tyagi told reporters.
The former IAF chief refuted allegations that he was paid bribes to swing a Rs 3,600 crore deal for procuring 12 choppers from Italian firm Finmeccanica to ferry VVIPS.
"I am innocent. These allegations are totally baseless and I am denying them categorically. The deal was signed in 2010 whereas I retired in 2007 itself," he said.
Names of Tyagi's three cousins Julie, Docsa and Sandeep Tyagi have also figured in reports suggesting that they had also a role to play in clinching the deal. He denied that his relationship with his cousins had any business dimension.
Asked if he had changed any specifications for the contract to favour Finmeccanica, Tyagi said the "staff qualitative requirements for the VVIP choppers were frozen in 2003, much before I assumed the office of Chief of Air Staff, and the IAF did not change any requirements after that."
Reports today suggested that Italian investigators have alleged in a preliminary inquiry submitted in an Italian court that business conglomerate Finmeccanica bribed S P Tyagi when he was chief of the Indian Air Force to swing the controversial AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal in favour of the company.
After the arrest of Finmeccanica's head yesterday in Italy in connection with the controversial deal, the Indian Defence Ministry has ordered a CBI probe into the charges.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said government will act as per deal in the affair.
The Italian investigative report into the Rs 3,546 crore VVIP chopper scandal claims that middlemen were paid at least Euro 400,000 upfront by Finmecannica for bribing officials in India and that the rest of the kickbacks came thorough inflated bills and invoices that were in the guise of engineering contracts.
In the 64-page report that details the manner in which money was routed to India for distribution to influence the deal, there is a mention that while Euro 100,000 was paid in cash by Switzerland based middleman Guido Hascke to the New Delhi based Tyagi brothers, the rest came thorugh an engineering contract with IDS, a Tunisia based engineering consultancy.
- Asian Tribune -