NEW DELHI: Investigators probing the Rs 3,600 crore Agusta Westland VVIP helicopter deal have tightened the noose around the scamsters.
On Friday, Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials probing the money laundering angle in the issue registered a criminal case against former Air Force chief S P Tyagi.
The ED sleuths had examined a contract between the Tyagi brothers and Gordian SRL of Guido Ralph Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. They said a contract was signed between AgustaWestland Spa and Gordian SRL in Agusta’s Cascina Costa plant in December 2005, after Haschke confirmed to the Italian company that India has decided to lower the flying ceiling for the helicopters. ED sources said that under the cover of consultancy contracts, Haschke is alleged to have sent €1.26 lakh (about `102 crore) and €2 lakh (about `1.68 crore) to the Tyagi brothers.
Subsequently, AgustaWestland’s parent company Finmeccanica in 2007 and 2008 entered into an engineering agreement with IDS Infotech and IDS Tunisia, the companies linked to middlemen Haschke and Gerosa. Later, another firm, Aeromatrix, was floated to merge the alleged engineering business of IDS infotech. The ED has alleged that majority shares of Aeromatrix were held by IDS Mauritius, another dubious company of Haschke.
“The company allegedly raised fake and over invoices against IDS Tunisia showing the liabilities to facilitate money laundering,” sources said. ED sources said they have also examined the communication between the former Air Chief’s three cousins - Sanjeev (Julie), Rajeev (Dosca) and Sandeep Tyagi to establish their links with Haschke and Gerosa.
The ED has alleged that both the middlemen allegedly played a dubious role by rigging the selection process in connivance with Indian officials to ensure that helicopter contract went to AgustaWestland. Earlier, Italian investigator reports had suggested that the middlemen managed to modify conditions of the tender, including reducing the flight ceiling from 18,000 to 15,000 feet, which made Agusta’s AW- 101 eligible for the bid.
All the four Tyagis including Tyagi, British born middlemen Christian Michel, Haschke, Gerosa and Praveen Bakshi of Aeromatrix were among 13 people who figure as accused in the FIR CBI had filed on March 13, 2013, to probe the kickback allegation in the deal. Tyagi has denied any wrongdoing in the deal.