AgustaWestland: CBI blames apathy of seven countries

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New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) The CBI interrogated former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi for the third day on Wednesday in connection with the AgustaWestland chopper scam even as it blamed some countries for not responding to its queries.

Both Tyagi and Gautam Khaitan, former board member of Aeromatrix, one of the suspect companies in the case, were questioned for around 10 hours each at the CBI headquarters here, informed sources said.

But what is bothering the Central Bureau of Investigation is the lack of response from six countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Britain, Singapore and Switzerland, despite the Letters Rogatory (LR) sent to them.

LR is a formal request from a court to a foreign court for judicial assistance and taking evidence.

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The CBI needs help from abroad to connect the trail of funds in the alleged kickbacks paid for the Rs.3,600-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal.

The CBI has sought the external affairs ministry’s help to expedite the process.

The CBI earlier sent LR to seven countries — the UAE, Britain, Singapore, Switzerland, Mauritius, Tunisia and Italy — as well as the British Virgin Islands, seeking information regarding the alleged kickbacks.

The agency has been probing the case since March 2013 after filing an FIR against Tyagi and 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen.

The chopper deal resurfaced after an Italian court last month referred to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh among others in connection with the chopper deal.

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The sources told IANS that Italy was the only country to reply to the LR.

“British Virgin Islands, Tunisia and the UK only gave partial reply. The remaining countries are yet to give any reply.”

“Due to lack of evidence from these countries, we have been facing difficulties in linking together the money trail in the alleged kickbacks (in the AgustaWestland deal).”

Information from these countries will help the CBI get more evidence against the accused, the sources told IANS.

Tyagi, accused in Italy and India of helping AgustaWestland win the chopper contract by reducing the flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres (15,000 feet), was questioned on Monday and Tuesday too.

Khaitan, who will be quizzed on Thursday too, told the CBI that he was instrumental in setting up the IDS Infotech Tunisia — a subsidiary company of IDS Infotech India, one of the accused companies in the case.

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The source said they have information that “lots of money” were transferred to the account of IDS Infotech Tunisia from some bank accounts in Italy. This was later sent to other countries.

“We suspect the money was the part of the alleged kickbacks and it was transferred by AgustaWestland as bribe,” said a source.

But the sources added that Khaitan did not admit that IDS Infotech Tunisia had received any money from AgustaWestland.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])



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