ED names former IAF chief among 34 in AgustaWestland charge sheet

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New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed a supplementary charge sheet in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal against 34 individuals and foreign and Indian companies including former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi, his two cousins, advocate Gautam Khaitan and Italians Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke.

While filing the charge sheet before special judge Arvind Kumar under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the ED said that money was laundered through “multiple foreign companies” and these firms were used as “fronts to park alleged kickbacks”.

The charge sheet, filed through special public prosecutor N. K. Matta, will be taken up for consideration on July 20.

The chargesheet, which mentions money laundering of around 28 million euros, named the former IAF chief’s cousins Sanjeev Tyagi and Rajiv Tyagi along with Bruno Spagnolini, former CEO of AgustaWestland, and Giuseppe Orsi, the former chief of Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica.

Others named are Rajeev Saxena, Director of Dubia-based firm Matrix Holdings, his wife Shivani Saxena and Khaitan’s wife Ritu Khaitan.

The charge sheet also names some Indian and foreign companies like Aeromatrix Info Solution Ltd, Windsor Group Holdings, Ismax International Ltd, Cricklewood Ltd, Long Lasting Ltd, Matrix Holding Pvt Ltd, UHY Saxena, Dubai Interstellar Technologies Ltd, O.P. Khaitan and Co International Mediterranean Consulting, Tunisia Infotech Design Systems, Gordian Services, Finmeccanica SPA and AgustaWestland.

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The ED said kickbacks were paid by AgustaWestland through two different channels — one handled by middleman Christian Michel James and the other by Gerosa and Haschke.

Accusing Gerosa and Haschke, in collusion with Tyagi brothers, of conspiring with Khaitan, the charge sheet said that Tunisia-based IDS Infotech, International Mediterranean Consulting, Gordian Services; India’s Aeromatrix, and Mauritius-based Infotech Design Systems, Long Lasting Limited and Cricklewood were related to Gerosa and Haschke, and are involved in money laundering.

Khaitan, the ED said, was the mastermind behind behind the money laundering and was known to Gerosa, Haschke and Tyagi brothers. “He prepared a corporate structure of companies and got incorporated several legal entities across the globe. Thereafter, money was laundered through various companies in Tunisia, Mauritius, India, British Virgin Island, Singapore, Switzerland and Dubai.”

He also received money in personal bank accounts opened in his name and on his companies in India and abroad, namely Windsor Holding, Ismax and O.P. Khaitan, said ED, adding his associate Rajiv Saxena’s Mauritus-based Interstellar firm as one of the main fronts for laundering money.

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Saxena had also transferred money from Interstellar to his Dubai based UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings firms in collusion with Khaitan, said ED.

Gerosa and Haschke advanced huge amounts of tainted money to Tyagi brothers in the guise of sham consultancy agreements in return of favours given to AgustaWestland in the procurement of the contract for VVIP helicopters. Tyagi brothers incorporated various entities like Krishneel, Krishnayan, Tyagi Ishan and Krishnom for receiving kickbacks.

“S.P. Tyagi was fifty percent partner in one of these concerns, namely Krishnom.”

ED had earlier attached properties worth Rs 10 crore and frozen shares worth more than Rs 150 crore belonging to Tyagi brothers, Khaitan, Gerosa, Haschke, James and Rajiv Saxena.

The agency said it is likely to file more supplementary prosecution complaints or charge sheets in the matter.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) — the prime investigating agency — has already filed a chargesheet in the case.

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On January 1, 2014, India cancelled the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF, over alleged breach of contractual obligations and on charges of paying kickbacks amounting to Rs 423 crore.

The CBI, which registered an FIR on March 12, 2013, alleged that S.P. Tyagi, who was the IAF chief from 2004 to 2007, and the other accused received kickbacks from AgustaWestland to help it win the contract.

According to the CBI, the IAF chief allegedly took bribes of several crores from AgustaWestland through the middlemen — and a complex set of companies in several countries — to change the specifications of the contract, reducing the operational flight ceiling from 6,000 metres, as originally proposed, to 4,500 metres and the cabin height was brought down to 1.8 metres.

The twin modifications were allegedly meant to rig the deal in favour of AgustaWestland, which eventually walked away with the order to supply the 12 choppers for the IAF’s Communication Squadron to ferry the President, the Prime Minister and other VVIPs.

–IANS

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