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Chopper scam report implicates Indian officials

Posted on Feb 15, 02:29PM | IBNS

New Delhi, Feb 15 : Besides bribing Indian officials for a 12-helicopter deal, defence giant Finmeccanica discussed kickbacks for a larger deal with a serving Brigadier in the Indian Army, Italian prosecutors have said.

The report by the investigators also said that an alleged middleman for helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, touched the feet of former Air Force chief SP Tyagi.

The deal for 12 VVIP helicopters was signed after Tyagi twisted the rules of the tender in favour of AgustaWestland in return for kickbacks that were deposited with his cousins, the prosecutors have said.

The scandal scandal involved kickbacks worth upto Rs 360 crores for the deal that was worth about Rs 4,000 crores and allegedly took place during the tenure of Tyagi who headed the air force from 2004 to 2007.

Tyagi has denied the allegations and has said that he met one of the alleged AgustaWestland middlemen just once contrary to the charges of "six or seven" meetings.

The middleman Ralph Haschke has "confessed" that he met Tyagi six or seven times and once greeted him by touching his feet as a sign of respect, the Italian prosecutors have said.

The Italian inquiry has also found that in 2003, a serving Brigadier of the Indian Army allegedly demanded $5 million dollars to influence a contract for 197 light helicopters in favour of AgustaWestland.

The Indian government has already ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the AugustaWestland deal for 12 VVIP choppers.

Italian police arrested Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of state-controlled Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi in Rome for alleged bribes paid in order to secure the deal.