A fresh controversy has erupted over former IAF chief Fali Homi Major’s visit to Italy where he was provided hospitality by Finmeccanica, which along with its subsidiary AgustaWestland is being probed in connection with the alleged pay-offs in the VVIP chopper scam.Major,though,defended the visit as well as the hospitality provided by the firm in 2007, saying it had the Centre’s nod and the programme had been chalked out by the Indian Embassy in Rome.
“It was not for my personal requirement but for the delegation which was visiting the country,” he said. Incidentally, at the time of Major’s visit,Finmeccanica had not come under a cloud on charges of lobbying for foreign contracts through bribes, which are currently being probed by an Italian court. The `3,727-crore VVIP chopper deal too is being looked into by the Italian investigators while the Indian officials are probing the role of former IAF chief S P Tyagi and his family members, who allegedly received kickbacks to swing the deal in Agusta’s favour.
Major’s name cropped up during the proceedings in the Italian court where the defence lawyers told the Busto Arsizio court that no meeting had taken place between the company officials and Tyagi as claimed by Agusta’s former employee James Saporito, Italian media reported.
Saporito had claimed during the previous hearing that he had hosted Tyagi during his visits to Italy. However, it emerged that there was a mix-up and it was actually Major,whom he had hosted.According to the reports, Agusta’s legal team also submitted pictures of Major along with the company officials at a dinner hosted by the firm.
Agusta’s AW-101 was tried and tested by the IAF after Major took over as chief on April 1, 2007. Major had approved the trials to be held abroad and the CAG report had slammed the decision.