NEW DELHI: The Italian court’s judgment in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal may turn out to be another Bofors for the Congress as the ruling BJP, citing the conviction of Finmeccanica officials, asked the grand old party to name the bribe takers.
The court’s 225-page judgment reveals references to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, ex-prime minister Manmohan Singh, and party leaders Ahmed Patel and Oscar Fernandes. On page no. 204 of the judgment, a 2008 letter seized from the home of arrested middleman Guido Haschke has been cited to argue in the court that key players were targeting top UPA leadership to swing the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal.
The letter was written by Christian Michel, a fugitive British middlemen, to Peter Hulet, then India region sales and liaison head of AgustaWestland.
“Dear Peter, since Mrs. Gandhi (Sonia Gandhi) is the driving force behind VIP will no longer fly in the MI-8. Mrs. Gandhi and her closest advisers are the people who the British ambassador should target... Prime Minister Manmohan Singh obviously main figure, then there is secretary (Sonia’s political secretary) Ahmed Patel,” said the letter written by Michel.
Sonia’s name figures twice on page 193 of the judgment and once on page no. 204. Haschke apparently told the court that Fernandes was a local politician and was part of the deal. Former national security advisor
M K Narayanan is also mentioned on page 193 as a person with considerable influence. Narayanan was questioned by the CBI in 2014 as a witness in the case. Manmohan’s name figures twice on page no. 163 and 164 where a handwritten note by ex-Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi has been included.
Orsi has been convicted and sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail by the court. Orsi’s purported handwritten note of July 3, 2013, to his associates suggested having a word with Italian PM Mario Monti or Ambassador Terracciano who should call Manmohan. Terracciano was diplomatic advisor to the Italian PM then. “Monti or ambassador Terracciano on my behalf to ask him to call PM Singh,” said the note.
The judgment on page no. 164 said it can be guessed what the message Orsi, under detention then, was trying to send to the head of the government of India. The judgment on page 163 noted that the then UPA government delayed sharing relevant documents with Italian prosecutors.
On page no. 9 of the judgment is an interesting handwritten note on how total kickbacks of €30 million was to be divided between political leaders, bureaucrats and Air Force officials after the deal was swung in favour of AgustaWestland.
The handwritten note on page no. 3 mentioned kickbacks amounting €15 to €16 million for ‘Political’. Though it mentioned only ‘AP’ and ‘Fam’, page no. 204 of the judgment said ‘AP’ was Ahmed Patel and ‘Fam’ was former air chief S P Tyagi’s family. Patel’s name appears thrice on page no 193 and twice on page no 204.
The note further said that bureaucrats be allotted €8.4 million, while Air Force officials be given €6 million. It also mentioned Rs 80 lakh, which Haschke told the court was the amount already incurred. The court, in its judgment, said the graft trail in the deal has been proved while sentencing Orsi and AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini.
‘Why are bribe takers Silent’
In the wake of the Italian court’s verdict in the Agusta chopper deal, the BJP attacked the Congress arguing that while bribe-givers (Italians Giuseppe Orsi, Bruno Spagnolini) have been convicted, why are bribe-takers silent?
The Chat show
Haschke – Sanjeev Tyagi
(Over 220 chats including more than 80 text messages exchanged during Jan 2010-Feb 2012)
Sanjeev Tyagi – Nadia (Aide of middleman Guido Haschke)
(More than 240 chats including texts in Dec 2010–Sept 2012)
Kammoun Hedi (collaborator of Haschke and Gerosa in Tunisia) – Praveen Bakshi
(Over 100 chats in Feb 2011–Nov 2012)
Carlo Gerosa – Sandeep Tyagi
(More than 20 chats beginning Feb 8, 2010)
Haschke – Praveen Bakshi
(Over 350 chats from March 2010)
An appeals court in Milan, Italy, which had convicted AgustaWestland chief Giuseppe Orsi, has highlighted in its verdict how the firm bribed Congress party leaders to pocket the Rs 3,600-cr VVIP helicopter contract. A look
“Call Monti or Amb. Terracciano in my name to ask him to call the PM Singh,” said the note seized from the prison cell of Giuseppe Orsi
“Monti”: Former Italian PM Mario MONTI, at that time still in office
“amb. TERRACCIANO”: Pasquale TERRACCIANO, previously ambassador in Madrid, and, at the time, diplomatic advisor to the Prime Minister
“P.M. Singh”: The initials before the surname lead to Manmohan SINGH, PM from 2004 to 2014