Choppergate: India questions middleman
An Italian court allowed Indian authorities to question alleged middleman Guido Hashcke in a VVIP chopper scam involving India's defence ministry and AgustaWestland, the Anglo-Italian helicopter company owned by Italy's Finmeccanica.
A Milan court, while recording Haschke's statement, gave Indian officials present there an opportunity to question him.
Haschke said Indian air force officials were paid a bribe worth 6 million euros, while the bureaucracy was paid 8.4 million euros. He alleged some politicians were also paid huge amount of bribe in the scam.
AgustaWestland had been accused of bribery charges in the Rs. 4000-crore VVIP chopper deal with Indian defence department.
The company had denied all charges of paying kickbacks.
Besides bribing Indian officials for a 12-helicopter deal, Finmeccanica discussed kickbacks for a larger deal with a serving Brigadier in the Indian Army, an inquiry by Italian prosecutors had said.
The report by the investigators had said that an alleged middleman for helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland was seen touching the feet of former Air Force chief SP Tyagi.
The 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 had denied the allegations and had said that he met one of the alleged AgustaWestland middlemen just once contrary to the charges of "six or seven" meetings.
The middleman Haschke "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 had said.
Tyagi's family members were also linked to the scam but his brother vehemently denied it.
Italian police earlier 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.
(Posted on 07-12-2013)