The former Indian Air Force Marshal S P Tyagi who seems to be at the heart of the infamous Rs3,726 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam in which kickbacks were paid allegedly to the tune of over Rs350 crore is to be questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday. Even though there has been quite an emphasis on AFM Tyagi, the story of his three cousins, Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep (also now known as Tyagi brothers) is a telling one.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In CBI documents accessed by dna, the agency details the accuseds’ cozy relationship with the IAF and the level of inroads that the Tyagi brothers had managed to make into Indian bureaucracy through diligent lobbying.The story goes back to 1999 when the IAF proposed replacement of existing Mi-8 VIP helicopters due to operational difficulties. A year later procurement process for eight new helicopters was initiated and request for proposal (RFP) was issued to 11 global vendors. Four global vendors, including AgustaWestland International Ltd (AIWL), responded.This is where the problem was first red-flagged. As per RFP, one mandatory requirement was that the service ceiling (height of flying capacity) must be 6,000 metres and even though AIWL declared that their EH-101 helicopters had service ceiling (height of flying capacity) of 4,572 meters, it was cleared for flight trials, along with other three bidders, on the grounds that Agusta would bring helicopters to the height of 6,000 metres.Following the flight trials, two helicopters, Mi-172 and the French-made EC 225 were adjudged qualified for acquisition. In 2002, AgustaWestland was disqualified, but the Tyagi brothers, who the CBI claimed had close acquaintance with Guido Hashke and Carlo Gerosa, were not going down without a fight.On November 19, 2003, in a note from the Prime Minister’s Office, it was stated that framing of mandatory requirements have led to single vendor situation suggesting the acquisition of French-made helicopters. The then Chief of Air Staff and Defence Secretary were directed to draw realistic mandatory requirements. Back then PMO also suggested keeping ceiling to 4,500 based on IAF inputs which stated VVIPs rarely flew above 4,500 metres. The matter was deliberated at several levels with the IAF, NSA, SPG/PMO and MoD. But this view changed when IAF on January 6, 2004 in a correspondence insisted keeping on height at 6 km as anything less would cut off VVIP helicopters from traveling from Leh valley to Srinagar which involves crossing Zoji La Pass as well as the Siachen glacier.While the CBI documents the series of official meetings that took place with regards to the choppers, it does not fail to mention behind the role allegedly played by Tyagi brothers who used former AFM Tyagi to influence important government officials. The result was that even after the then Defense Secretary on November 8, 2004 decided it was not feasible to change the height, four months later after the appointment of AFM Tyagi, IAF on March 7, agreed to reduce the height.Investigators of the CBI, in their findings, mention how the Tyagi brothers waited for AFM to become the chief so that their defence deals would pass Capital’s power corridors with ease. In its findings the CBI claimed, that back in 2004, Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep who had acquaintance with Guido Hashke and Carlo Gerosa and entered into a consultancy contract with Gordian Services Sarl, in Tunisia. Gordian Services belonged to Haske and Gerosa, both of whom stand accused in the scam. The agency found out that amounts of 1,26,000 Euros after May 2004 and 2 lakh Euro after Feb 2005 camouflaged as consultancy fee was paid to Tyagi brothers and some of the money was allegedly paid off to AFM Tyagi himself.Eight years after it was disqualified AgustaWestland signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence for the supply of 12 AW 101 VVIP/VIP helicopters on February 8, 2010 with associate engineering package at an aggregated price of euro 5562.262 million (3726.96 crores). This was the period when the Tyagi brothers allegedly lobbied to make IAF soften its stand on ceiling capacity.
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