New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) The CBI on Monday told a court here that specifications were changed to enable the AgustaWestland company meet eligibility criteria for the supply of VVIP helicopters.
The accused, including former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, hatched a criminal conspiracy to change the specifications of the contract — including cabin height and operational flight ceiling — to favour the Britain-based company, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told Special Judge Arvind Kumar.
The CBI filed a charge sheet on September 1 in the Rs 3,726 crore AgustaWestland chopper case against Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev alias Julie, then IAF Vice Chief J.S. Gujral, advocate Gautam Khaitan, Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi, former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini, and three alleged European middleman Christian Michel, Guido Haschke, and Carlo Gerosa.
The court was told on Monday that Gujral in 2005 for the first time introduced the requirement of cabin height of 1.8 metres,which earlier was neither mandatory nor desirable.
The CBI told the court that words “at least twin engine” were inserted in the amendment proposal in 2005 to bring AgustaWestland within eligibility criteria as its helicopters sport three engines and a service ceiling of 4,500 metres.
Tyagi, the CBI has alleged, took bribes of several crores of rupees through middlemen and a complex route of companies in several countries, from AgustaWestland to change the contract specifications by reducing operational flight ceiling from 6,000 metres, as originally proposed, to 4,500 metres.
The CBI probe allegedly revealed that several payments were made to the Tyagi brothers by the three middlemen as bribery. In the charge sheet, Khaitan is described as the “brain” behind the deal.
Orsi and Spagnolini have already been sentenced by an Italian court for bribing Indian officials to get the contract illegally.
Tyagi, the IAF chief from 2004 to 2007, his brother Sanjeev and Khaitan were allegedly involved in irregularities in the procurement of 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland. They were arrested in December last year by the agency in connection with the case. They are now out on bail.