CBI forms SIT to probe AgustaWestland and Mallya cases

New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) The CBI on Thursday formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to expedite probe into the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal and the alleged loan fraud by former liquor baron Vijay Mallya.

Official sources said the SIT will be headed by CBI’s Additional Director Rakesh Asthana, a 1984 batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, who headed the state SIT that went into the burning of Sabarmati Express train at Godhra in February 2002.

Asthana was also associated with the fodder scam probe.

“The SIT has been formed to expedite the AgustaWestland case and Vijay Mallya case,” said an official.

The AgustaWestland scam 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 but gave no details of any wrongdoing by the two leaders.

The Italian court also convicted former heads of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland and said that the deal was allegedly clinched after bribing some Indians.

The sources said the judgement by the Milan Court of Appeals has “made it clear” that bribes were paid by UK-based AgustaWestland, a sister concern of Italy’s Finmeccanica.

A CBI official said the SIT will now probe about the beneficiaries of the kickbacks and ascertain the chain of fund flow. However, the agency has been awaiting responses to Letters Rogatory sent in this regard to foreign countries.

The official said the SIT will also investigate Rs 9,000 crore loan fraud case against Vijay Mallay.



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