Kickback Club Was Busy Chatting as Chopper Deal Went Through

Middlemen were in constant touch through calls and texts as Agusta helicopter deal was being finalised in South Block.

Published: 09th February 2014 09:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th February 2014 09:01 AM   |  A+A-

The probe into the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland scam has thrown startling facts exposing frequent chats between key players in the murky deal through telecom networks in Italy, Switzerland, Tunisia, India and London at a time when the deal was being finalised in the South Block.

The Sunday Standard has learnt that just days before the VVIP chopper proposal was approved by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on January 18, 2010, key middleman Guido Haschke allegedly had a chat with Sanjeev Tyagi on January 8. The frequent communication analysis between the two is proven by the fact that they had over 220 alleged conversations from January 8, 2010 to February 2012, including hundreds of SMSes exchanged with each other, sources said.

The scam broke out in 2012 and subsequently the communication between Sanjeev Tyagi and Haschke was abruptly snapped. However, investigators examining the details of communication confirmed that another channel with Haschke through his secretary Nadia was active till September 12, 2012.

In fact, investigators have found over 240 alleged chats between Sanjeev Tyagi and Nadia’s Switzerland number from December 2010 to September 2012. Sanjeev Tyagi, frequently mentioned as Julie Tyagi in Italian investigation reports and also named in the CBI FIR, had earlier denied any role in the deal saying Haschke sold the story on the basis of his relationship with former Air Chief SP Tyagi. Notwithstanding, sources said they will confront him with fresh electronic evidences seeking explanation on frequent communication with Haschke who was arrested from Switzerland in October last year.

Although, Sanjeev Tyagi denied any business link with key players, investigators are surprised to discover his chat with Kammoun Hedi between April and October 2011. Investigators alleged that Hedi was collaborator of Haschke and Gerosa in Tunisia. He was also made responsible for the transfer of money from IDS Tunisia account to India and Mauritius while directly dealing with Garvaglia Attilio, an employee of AgustaWestland.

Praveen Bakshi, CEO of Aeromatrix, Chandigarh-based company allegedly shown as the money laundering channel by the investigators to transfer kickbacks received from AgustaWestland, had at least 100 conversations including text messages with Hedi from February 22, 2011 to November 2, 2012. During the period, 10 false invoices were raised against IDS Tunisia showing the liabilities to the tune of 6.3 million Euros.

Investigation report had alleged that money transfer in lieu of false invoices began in 2007; they were shown as liabilities by IDS Tunisia while filing the annual tax returns.

Bakshi was also found to be in touch with Haschke when alleged kickback instalment was delayed by AgustaWestland. The surveillance net decoded by the investigators reveals that Bakshi and Haschke made over 350 contacts between March 2010 and April 2012.

“Bakshi sent at least 150 text messages to Haschke and we will grill him again on the context of enhanced communication with middlemen under the scanner,” sources added.

The surveillance footprint reveals Bakshi also made calls to Attilio and Nadia beginning January 2011 and it continued even after the scam was fanned out in media. Sources said some more information was shared by foreign agencies related to calls made by elusive British agent Christian Michel from London number 447********1 to Indian collaborators but they refused to divulge the name of the person saying details are being examined by the probe team.

“The frequent flying in and out for meeting by alleged middlemen and enhanced communication with each other clearly establishes their role in the suspicious deal. More details may come out following second round of questioning,” sources said.

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