AgustaWestland Probe: Top Defense Officers under Lens

NEW DELHI (TIP): A day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought “property details” of at least 10 senior officers of the defense ministry and the IAF, the CBI has asked the ministry of defense (MoD) to provide names, addresses and contact details of all senior officers, mostly above joint secretary rank, who served there between 2005, when the tender for 12 choppers was floated, and February 2010, when the contract was awarded to Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland for Rs 3,546 crore.

The CBI probe against MoD personnel is significant as the ministry, then under A K Antony, after an “internal examination” had said that “there was no wrongdoing on part of the ministry” and that “all laid procedures were followed as per the defense procurement procedure”.

A senior CBI official said, “We have written to MoD calling for all relevant records related to officers who took part in important meetings, handled important files and signed on them like AM (acquisition manager), JS Air (joint secretary air), DS (defense secretary) among others, who signed on the files and took the decision ultimately to award the contract to AgustaWestland.”

Designations of some senior ministry officials are mentioned against the bribe money allegedly paid by middleman Christian Michel, in a handwritten note which is part of an Italian court judgment. It is alleged that Indian officials, politicians and bureaucrats were paid Rs 360 crore in bribes for the deal.

The CBI is hoping to get a reply from MoD soon as the government has asked probe agencies to go into the root of the scam where bribes were allegedly paid up to the top level.

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The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had also slammed the defense ministry and said it modified some crucial parameters of operational requirements of the helicopters in 2005 to favor the Anglo-Italian consortium, which became the sole vendor as a result. The CAG had observed that in January 2006, when acceptance of necessity was granted, the projected cost was Rs 793 crore for 12 helicopters. The cost negotiation committee, however, recommended Rs 3,726.96 crore in February 2009, and a year later, the MoD concluded the contract with AgustaWestland and signed the deal for the same amount.
ED has written to the ministry seeking “property details” of at least 10 senior officers, the abbreviations of whose designations are mentioned in Michel’s note as ‘DCH’, ‘PDSR’, ‘DG Maintt’, ‘FTT’, ‘DS’, ‘JS Air’, ‘AFA Air’, ‘DG Acq’.

The handwritten note, being treated as evidence by the CBI and the ED, mentions that 6 million euros were for AF (air force), 8.4 million euros for BUR (bureaucrats), 3 million euros for AP (alleged to be Ahmed Patel) and 15-16 million euros for the ‘Fam” (believed to be S P Tyagi’s family— cousins Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep Tyagi). Source: TOI

No evidence to link politicians with AgustaWestland bribes: Italian judge

On a day that the BJP and Congress traded charges in Parliament regarding the controversial AgustaWestland deal, the Italian judge who delivered the verdict in the VVIP chopper said there was no ‘direct evidence’ linking any Indian politician with alleged kickbacks.

There is a “possibility or probability but there is no direct evidence,” Judge Marco Maria Maiga, who delivered the verdict against Italian middlemen and senior officials of the chopper company, told TV channels, as per reports.

Maiga, a judge of a Milan court, said this when he was asked whether he believed that bribes were offered to Indian politicians by Italian middlemen.

He maintained that his verdict was only against senior officials of the chopper company and middlemen who had paid bribes to some officials in India and that it was up to Indian investigators to follow the money trail.

“Identifying the (Indian) individuals was not in for judgment for Italian courts. Well, we have to clarify that the object of our judgment was on two Italian businessmen and their indictment,” he said, as per PTI.

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