The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday began the questioning of former Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam. The former IAF chief has also been issued summons by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Tyagi among 15 suspects, the CBI had in 2013 formally launched a probe into the VVIP helicopter deal. The agency also named Tyagi’s three cousins, three alleged middlemen and four companies among others in the probe into allegations of kickbacks in securing the 12 luxury chopper deal with England-based AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian defence giant Finmeccanica.
The allegation against the former air chief is that he had reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft) so that AgustaWestland was included in the bids.
However, this decision was reportedly taken in consultation with the officials of SPG and the Prime Minister’s Office including then NSA MK Narayanan.
The investigating agency had quizzed former IAF Deputy Chief JS Gujral on Saturday in the case.
Middlemen and family connections – AgustaWestland representatives stopped at nothing to reach Tyagi and swing the chopper deal in the company’s favour, documents filed by Italian prosecutors in the case in 2013 had said.
The investigation report quoted key middleman asserting that he met Tyagi “6/7 times”, which included meetings at the offices of the former air chief’s cousins and at the Bangalore airshow when Tyagi was still in office.
This contradicted Tyagi’s claim that he met a middleman just once — and that too after he retired.
CBI which has received a copy of the Milan court order has now prepared a fresh set of questionnaire to put to Tyagi, who had denied the allegations against him and has claimed that the decision to reduce the ceiling was taken by a group of senior officials.