AgustaWestland scam: CBI files charge sheet against ex-Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma

Kunte and Santosh retired as air commodores. The alleged scam relates to the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland.
Former Defence Secretary and Comptroller and Auditor General Shashi Kant Sharma. (File Photo | PTI)
Former Defence Secretary and Comptroller and Auditor General Shashi Kant Sharma. (File Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: The CBI has filed a supplementary charge sheet in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland scam against former Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and four Indian Air Force personnel, officials said Wednesday.

The CBI filed the charge sheet in a special court in Delhi after getting the nod from the government to prosecute Sharma, who was the Defence Secretary between 2011 and 2013 before being appointed the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The central probe agency also named the then Air Vice Marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar (now retired), deputy chief test pilot S A Kunte, the then Wing Commander Thomas Mathew and Group Captain N Santosh, they said.

Kunte and Santosh retired as air commodore. The case pertains to alleged bribery to swing a deal to procure 12 VVIP helicopters in favour of AgustaWestland which was ineligible as its helicopters did not meet the 6,000-meter operational ceiling parameter set by the Indian Air Force.

The need for new helicopters to ferry VVIPs -- the president, the prime minister, the vice president and the defence minister -- was felt in 1999 when a proposal was moved to find an alternative to the IAF's Soviet-era Mi8s.

The CBI has accused then IAF Chief S P Tyagi of recommending reduction in the operational ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 meters to 4,500 meters which brought AgustaWestland into the race, the CBI has alleged.

The IAF was strongly opposed to the changes but when Tyagi became the chief, he recommended it, the agency has alleged.

This, according to the CBI, was allegedly done at the behest of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland top executives who engaged the services of three middlemen -- Christian Michel, Guido Haschke and Carlos Gerosa -- who allegedly paid bribes to Tyagi and his cousins Rajiv, Sandeep and Julie.

The agency has alleged that Michel's firms received about 42.27 million Euros, approximately seven per cent of the deal amount, from the companies to swing the Rs 3,600-crore deal in their favour.

The bribes were allegedly routed through companies of Michel and an advocate, Gautam Khaitan, in the form of multiple contracts through layered transactions to camouflage them.

The first charge sheet in the case was filed in September 2017 naming former IAF chief Tyagi and others. It was followed by another charge sheet in September 2020 against Michel and others.

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