Yuva Sai Sagar

An online news channel

Tag: agusta

VVIP Chopper scam: CBI receives response from all eight countries, to begin fresh questioning

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday received reply from all the eight countries to its Letter Rogatory in connection with the Agusta Westland VVIP chopper case.Sources said the information provided by UAE and Singapore is of crucial importance to the CBI.”Both countries were recently approached through diplomatic channels for execution of the CBI’s letters rogatory (LRs) or judicial requests at the earliest. Now the agency has received responses to the LRs it sent to eight countries for establishing money trail in the Rs. 3,767 crore Agusta Westland VVIP helicopter deal case,” said sources.Mauritius, Tunisia, Italy, British Virgin Island, the UK and Switzerland are the other six countries where Letter Rogatory (a letter of formal request from court to a foreign court) was sent by the CBI, seeking assistance in probe and collection of documents in connection with this case.The CBI will very soon start a fresh round of questioning.Former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal (Retd.) S. P. Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were arrested on December 10 in connection with this case. The court had on December 17 sent all the three accused to judicial custody till December 30.The former Air Chief was yesterday granted bail on the condition that he will not leave Delhi or try to contact any witness in the case.Air Marshal (Retd.) Tyagi, who headed the Indian Air Force between 2004 and 2007, has been accused of abusing his official position to help AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italy based Finmeccanica, win the deal to supply a dozen helicopters meant for the country’s top politicians.

VVIP Chopper scam: Ex-Air Force Chief SP Tyagi gets bail, can’t leave Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to former Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal (retired) SP Tyagi in the AgustaWestland chopper scam case.The Court granted bail to Tyagi on a surety of Rs 2 lakh. However, the court directed him not to leave Delhi NCR and not to tamper with evidence.The judicial custody of Sanjeev Tyagi and Gautam Khaitan’s will continue as the court will hear the bail plea on January 4.The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) counsel earlier on December 23 requested the court not to disclose evidences to anyone saying that if the evidence gathered will be disclose, there would be implication on future investigation.Commenting on the bail issued to all the three accused related to the scam, the investigating agency had said they are on pre-charge sheet stage and a very crucial time of investigation is going on.Counter attacking the CBI’s plea, SP Tyagi’s counsel said, “CBI isn’t showing or telling evidence against him and if he (SP Tyagi) tries to prove his innocence, they will accuse him of non-cooperation since he’s not incriminating himself.”Tyagi’s counsel hjad also alleged that CBI in the last four years has never been able to establish any evidence against ex-air chief regarding receipt of any bribe.Tyagi has been accused of influencing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland during his tenure as the IAF chief.He has, however, repeatedly denied the allegations.

Rahul’s info on ‘PM’s corruption’ turns out to be old I-T diary notings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi chose a public rally in Mehsana, Gujarat to reveal the information he had claimed would trigger ‘an earthquake’ in Delhi.Gandhi’s charges of corruption against Prime Minister Narendra Modi have sent the ruling BJP seething. The party has described the allegations as “baseless, irresponsible and shameful” and an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland scam.The information on Prime Minister Modi’s “personal corruption” which Gandhi finally let out after days of suspense related to the account books of Sahara and Birlas seized by the Income Tax Departments. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told a press conference here that Gandhi had brought out nothing new as he had tabled the Income Tax Department’s appraisal reports of both Sahara and Aditya Birla Groups in the Assembly showing the bribes allegedly paid to Modi in 2013 during his tenure as the Gujarat Chief Minister. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader, Derek O’Brien, was also quick to claim credit that it was his party that had first held demonstrations in the Parliament House Complex on December 2, 2014 with the red diary of Sahara, exposing Modi’s corruption.Gandhi, who was originally told by his aides to raise the issue on the floor of the House, so he could not be hauled in any court of law, finally threw the ‘bombshell’ at Modi in his home state of Gujarat. He also challenged the government to set up an independent inquiry while reeling out details of the money paid to Modi during his tenure as the Chief Minister. He accused the government of sitting on the Income Tax Department’s plea for a probe into the documents seized. Gandhi had earlier accused the BJP of preventing him from revealing these details in the Lok Sabha, and claimed that Modi was already “terrified”.The Congress Vice-President referred to a diary seized during a raid on the Sahara company on November 22, 2014 that allegedly showed Rs 40.5 crore being paid in nine instalments from October 30, 2013 to February 22, 2014. He also referred to the records of a Birla company with the Income Tax Department that allegedly show Rs 25 crore meant for the (then) Gujarat CM, Rs 12 crore of which was “given” and a question mark on the balance. The date-wise payments as claimed by Rahul in the Sahara diary were: Rs 3 crore on October 30, 2013, Rs 5 crore on November 12, 2.5 crore on Nov 27, Rs 5 crore on Nov 29, Rs 5 crore on Dec 6, Rs 5 crore on Dec 19, Rs 5 crore on January 13, 2014, Rs 5 crore on Jan 28 and Rs 5 crore on February 22. The Supreme Court last month had refused to order an investigation into the entries made in this diary. “We cannot initiate an investigation just because a big man has been named by someone. He is a high public functionary and we cannot proceed on materials like this. We need better material,” Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar told senior advocate Shanti BhushanThe BJP was quick to accuse Rahul of fighting for his political existence taking recourse to lies, expressing pity that he were suffering from “Modi phobia.” Party spokesman Srikant Sharma said Rahul is a “part time and non-serious politician” belonging to a party that has the habit of levelling baseless charges on PM Modi. Hitting back at Gandhi, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the allegations reflected the Congress leader’s frustration and were an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland probe in which the names of Congress leaders and the “family” were coming up. He said thePrime Minister was as “pure” as the Ganga. “The allegations levelled against the PrimeMinister are baseless, false, shameful and mala fide and they reflected Rahul Gandhi’s frustration in leading his party to disastrous defeats in state after state,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi claims PM Modi got Rs 40 crore from Sahara in 2013, BJP claims Agusta diversion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Rahul Gandhi alleged that Narendra Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister had taken money from Sahara and Birla groups and demanded an independent inquiry into it, a charge BJP rejected as an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland probe in which the names of Congress leaders and the “family” were coming up. Addressing a rally here in the prime Minister’s home state, he alleged that in the I-T records there are notings of Sahara officials’ claims that they had paid 9 times to Modi between October, 2013 and February, 2014.Gandhi said the documents in this regard were with IT department which had raided the company when Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister.Similarly, as per documents with Income Tax department, the Birla group also paid Rs 12 crore to Modi when he was Chief Minister.Wondering as to why there has been no probe in the matter so far, Gandhi demanded an independent inquiry. Last week, Gandhi claimed that he had evidence of “personal corruption” of Prime Minister but he was being prevented from speaking in the Lok Sabha because it would cause an earthquake.Reacting to Gandhi’s allegations, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in New Delhi that the charges are “baseless, false, shameful and mala fide” and an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland probe as names of Congress leaders and the “family” are coming up.Party spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said Gandhi was immature and was just indulging in bluff and bluster because people are not taking him seriously.”People of India have stopped taking him seriously. Rahul Gandhi is just bluff and bluster. There is no substance in what he says. He is just showing his and his party’s incompetence,” he said.Gandhi said he was raising the issue on behalf of the country which needs answers over the questions raised against the Prime Minister.”PM Modi takes bribes and then shamelessly foists Demonetisation on Indians under the garb of ‘fighting Black Money,” Congress tweeted after the rally quoting its Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.”Rahulji asks if Modiji received this money from Sahara or not? If this document is with Income Tax, will Modi now investigate it?,” tweeted party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. He was quoted saying by ANI that according to these records, Rs 2.5 crore was given to PM Modi on 30 October 2013, Rs 5 crore on 12 November 2013, Rs 2.5 crore on 27 Nov 2013, and Rs 5 crore on 29 November 2013. Entries showed Rs 5cr given to PM Modi on 6 Dec ’13; Rs 5cr on 19 Dec ’13; Rs 5cr on 13 Jan ’14;Rs 5cr on 28 Jan ’14;Rs 5cr 22 Feb ’14.” NGO Common Cause had filed a PIL on the issue in the Supreme Court and a bench headed by CJI-designate Justice J S Khehar last week had refused to take up the matter saying there was no evidence but only allegations against the Prime Minister. The bench then asked lawyer Prashant Bhushan to provide evidence before it could decide on whether it could admit the petition.Gandhi alleged that the I-T records show Sahara officials’ claims of having paid Rs 40 crore to Modi on various dates between October, 2013 and February, 2014.”You (Modi) did not allow me to speak in Parliament. I did not know why you did not wanted to face me in the House. I tell you the reason. Any business entity keeps record of its transactions. On November 2014, Income Tax department conducted raids on Sahara, a very large corporate house,” he said.”During that raid, I-T department found some documents, which are on record. I want to share with you the contents of those documents. There were several entries in those documents, which I am reading out before you,” he said.He then alleged that another record suggests that Birla Group gave Rs 12 crore to ‘Gujarat Chief Minister’.”This record is with I-T department since last 2.5 years.I-T even recommended to conduct an inquiry in this issue. I want to ask you why no such inquiry was done? We want to know whether it is true that money was given to you nine times by Sahara?” Rahul asked.”You doubted the honesty of citizens, their hard-earned income, and made them stand in the queues. Now, on behalf of citizens, I am asking you whether the information is true or not. And if it is true, then when you will set up an inquiry,” said Gandhi. With inputs from PTI

Demonetisation: India can’t win its black money war by going soft on political parties

It is becoming abundantly clear that all the hoopla and about going after black money through demonetisation was more of a spoof. The media, particularly the social media, was hyper about how many stashes of black money political parties had lost, with names like Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Arvind Kejriwal figuring conspicuously.

Then there was plenty of news about politicians from various parties caught with lakhs or crores of cash. That the banks too were laundering cash without political involvement itself is questionable. But the fact remains that bulk of the cash seized as ‘black money’ is new currency. All this while frequent briefings including the current withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 a week is not respected by many banks because they simply don’t have the cash unless you can stand in queues for days drawing Rs 4,000 or Rs 6,000 each day. Statements of more money being sent to rural areas, but then many news channels show chaos in rural areas as well.

Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia. ReutersRevenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia. Reuters

Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia. Reuters

So why not come clean and admit it will take 4-6 months to set things right, instead of 2-3 weeks which banks admit is impossible?

In the backdrop of the above, it was a shocker to hear revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia telling reporters that political parties depositing the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in their account(s), will not face income tax investigation – so sky is the limit. Adhia was replying to in response to a question that whether the government is also investigation political parties/political treasuries depositing their own cash in banks. Adhia specifically said, “If a deposit is in the account of a political party, they are exempt. But if it is deposited in individual’s account then that information will come into our radar. If the individual is putting money in his own account, then we will get information.” But politicians are no fools in such matters; stash must’ve gone white already through accounts of followers, Jan Dhan, whatever. Sections 13A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 grants exemption from tax to political parties in respect of their income from house property, other sources, capital gains and income by way of contributions received from any person.

Significantly, Adhia’s statement came on a day winter session of Parliament ended with all the shouting and sloganeering about demonetisation, AgustaWestland helicopter scam, allegations, counter allegations – of which the end result remains a question mark in the same vein as over past decades. For that matter in the case of AgustaWestland, no defence deal or scam can happen without the express involvement of the defence secretary and the DG (Acquisition), who before signing defence deals, make sure that the bribes reach the intended beneficiaries. Even Gen VK Singh, former COAS and presently MoS (External Affairs) states clearly in his autobiography that the corruption pipeline goes right up to the PMO. So let us see how thorough this probe and prosecution will be and with what end result. Does this explain why AK Anthony is doing jumping-jack putting all the blame on the IAF, least CBI probes how much was his cut in the AgustaWestland scam and what route it followed?

The 1993 Vohra Committee report while establishing the nexus between governmental functionaries, political leaders and others with various mafia organisation and crime syndicates, enabling development of significant muscle and money power to operate with impunity, had finally opined that “leakage whatever about the linkages of crime Syndicate senior Government functionaries or political leaders in the states or at the centre could have a destabilizing effect on the functioning of Government.” So, naturally there was no follow up to this report. But in this era of digitisation and connectivity (no matter not complete) all you need is an opinion poll pan-India as to which cross-section has and makes maximum black money in India, the overwhelming majority will be the political parties and politicians, corporate-with-blessings of the polity, and the like. In fact, that is the talk in every nukkad, shop, bank, gatherings of any size. But then is not what the 1993 Vohra Committee Report was implicitly pointed out?

So, if the bulk of the black money and loot is with the political parties, even though bulk is not in currency, where do we go from here – what sort of black money recovery are we executing? Sure Sections 13A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 grants exemption from tax to political parties in respect of their income from house property, other sources, capital gains and income by way of contributions received from any person. But given that government has launched a war against black money and corruption, why could Sections 13A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 not be amended before the demonetisation drive was launched.

This should have been very much possible considering the surreptitious manner in which FCRA Act 2010 was amended, legalising foreign donations – from ‘unknown’ sources? Why couldn’t a limit be put on what the political parties can deposit in their account and beyond which what percentage would be taxed, and how steep? After all, there are financial limits laid on electioneering also. Leaving limitless deposits by political parties without any taxation actually amounts to a farce being played about fighting a war against black money and corruption through demonetisation, permitting other hoarders now to deposit any amount with 50 percent taxation notwithstanding.

When Modi recently remarked about ‘state funding’ of elections, he was aware that money matters in politics because parties need ever-increasing resources for administration and election campaigns. But he was possibly looking for solutions to problems like: how money should not be allowed to buy access to decision-making power; how to sanction illicit donations and prevent trading in influence; should the state impose limits on corporate donations; and, should parties receive public funding? But looking at the mammoth political expenditure in our country, would it be ethical to use public funds for elections, what will be the tax burden on the common man, and how will it affect development? If that is the reason for the impossible drive of going cashless overnight without adequate infrastructure and education, to simply tax every transaction, it certainly needs a serious relook. It doesn’t take any intelligence to realize that next couple of years, India will need a mix of cash and cashless. If we don’t want to admit it, that is a different issue. The litmus test for Modi, therefore, is how to draw the black money out from the political parties, without which the war on black money will be largely ineffective.

The author is a veteran Lt. Gen.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 20:21 IST

AgustaWestland scam: Court sends ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi, two others to jail till 30 December

New Delhi: Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi was on Saturday sent to judicial custody till 30 December after CBI said he was not required for further custodial interrogation in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

Special CBI judge Arvind Kumar also sent Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, co-accused in the case related to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA 2 regime, to jail after the probe agency did not seek their further custody.

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTIFormer IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

After the agency’s submission, all the three accused moved their bail applications, which will be heard on 21 December as the CBI sought time to reply to the applications.

During the proceedings, the counsel appearing for Tyagi submitted before the court that the Italian top court had
ordered retrial of ex-Finmeccanica executives in VVIP chopper scam case, which makes CBI’s stand weak in the current case.

The court, however, said it will take up the matter on next date of hearing on 21 December.

The court had on 14 December extended the CBI remand of Tyagi and the two others by three days after CBI had said it was a “very serious” case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as “interest of the nation was compromised”.

The agency had earlier submitted in the court: “It is a very high-profile case and we need proper material. One part of the crime was committed in India while various other angles are in foreign land.”

Tyagi’s counsel had told the court that he was “a decorated war hero of the nation” and “CBI, which was termed
as ‘a caged parrot’ by the Supreme Court, is trying to tarnish his image”.

Earlier, Tyagi’s counsel had claimed that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) was also a part of it.

CBI had alleged that Tyagi had “abused his official position” and when he was the Air Chief Marshal, he had made
huge investments in land and other properties and had not disclosed the source his income.

It was also alleged that Khaitan was the “brain” behind how the bribe money reached India and several firms through which the money travelled came into existence and Sanjeev was known to alleged European middleman Carlo Gerosa.

The 71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on 9 December by the agency in connection with the case.

The CBI had also claimed that alleged European middleman Guido Haschke’s statement, which was received through LR
(Letter Rogatory), proved that he was assured by Sanjeev Tyagi that the latter’s brother was going to be Air Chief Marshal.

The accused persons, however, had alleged that the “CBI was trying to extract the confession using force”.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 16:50 IST

VVIP chopper scam: Court suspends Finmeccanica ex-boss Giuseppe Orsi’s corruption sentence

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Italy’s highest court has suspended a sentence handed earlier this year to the former boss of aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, for false accounting and corruption in connection with the sale of 12 luxury helicopters to India, Italian media reported.The decision yesterday came after both the defence and the prosecution had requested a suspension, on grounds that the Milan appeals court’s sentence in April differed too greatly from an earlier ruling.In April, Orsi was sentenced to four-a-half-years years in jail for false accounting and corruption. Also handed a four-year jail term on the same charges was Bruno Spagnolini, former head of AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica. The pair had been sentenced to two years in prison in October 2014 for false accounting.The court of cassation has referred the case back to the appeals tribunal. Italian media believe that the case will be closed when the statute of limitation expires in March 2017.The case against Orsi and Spagnolini resulted from an investigation launched in 2012 into the sale of 12 luxury helicopters to India’s government. Orsi was arrested in 2014 and resigned as chief executive of the aerospace group a short while later. India cancelled the deal with AgustaWestland in January 2014 amid allegations that the company paid bribes to win the 556-million-euro ($753 million) contract.The aborted deal was a severe setback for Finmeccanica, having already been hammered by the global financial crisis.

AgustaWestland scam: Italy’s highest court suspends Finmeccanica ex-boss’s corruption sentence

Rome: Italy’s highest court has suspended a sentence handed earlier this year to the former boss of aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, for false accounting and corruption in connection with the sale of 12 luxury helicopters to India, Italian media reported.

Reuters

India cancelled the deal with AgustaWestland in January 2014 amid allegations that the company paid bribes to win the € 556-million ($753 million) contract. Reuters

The Friday decision came after both the defence and the prosecution had requested a suspension, on grounds that the Milan appeals court’s sentence in April differed too greatly from an earlier ruling. In April, Orsi was sentenced to four-a-half-years years in jail for false accounting and corruption. Also handed a four-year jail term on the same charges was Bruno Spagnolini, former head of AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica.

The pair had been sentenced to two years in prison in October 2014 for false accounting. The court of cassation has referred the case back to the appeals tribunal. Italian media believe that the case will be closed when the statute of limitation expires in March 2017.

The case against Orsi and Spagnolini resulted from an investigation launched in 2012 into the sale of 12 luxury helicopters to the Indian government. Orsi was arrested in 2014 and resigned as chief executive of the aerospace group a short while later.

India cancelled the deal with AgustaWestland in January 2014 amid allegations that the company paid bribes to win the € 556-million ($753 million) contract. The aborted deal was a severe setback for Finmeccanica, having already been hammered by the global financial crisis.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 09:50 IST

VVIP chopper scam: Italy’s top court orders retrial of ex-Finmeccanica executives

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Italy’s highest court on Friday ordered a re-trial of former top executives at defence group Leonardo Finmeccanica over allegations of bribery in a 2010 contract to provide a dozen helicopters to the Indian government.In April a Milan appeals court sentenced former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi to four and a half years in prison for corruption and falsifying invoices, overturning a previous lower court ruling.Bruno Spagnolini, former head of the group’s helicopter unit AgustaWestland, was sentenced to four years in jail over the €560 million ($585 million) contract. The case went to the highest court after the two executives launched an appeal. Both executives will now have to be tried again in front of Milan’s appeals court.Last week India’s federal police arrested the former head of the air force SP Tyagi, 71, who was at the centre of allegations of impropriety in the order of 12 helicopters meant to fly senior Indian politicians. The deal was cancelled in 2014 after Orsi was arrested on suspicion of paying bribes to secure the deal.AgustaWestland opposed India’s decision to cancel the order and the contract is currently suspended and the subject of international arbitration in Paris.The case against Finmeccanica itself was dropped by prosecutors back in 2014 while AgustaWestland agreed on a €7.5 million settlement with the court the same year.

Ruckus continues to mar Lok Sabha proceedings; adjourns till noon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lok Sabha continued to witness disruption on the last day of the Winter Session on Friday, with the Opposition protesting over demonetization issue and targeting the government for making bribery allegations in AgustaWestland chopper deal, leading to adjournment till noon.With no let up in the gridlock between the Opposition and the government, high pitch protests and sloganeering erupted soon after the House met for the day. Members from the Congress and the TMC trooped into the Well shouting slogans, including demand for a discussion on demonetization.Congress members sought to raise the issue of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Thursday raking up allegations of bribery in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal during the erstwhile UPA regime.With Speaker Sumitra Mahajan not giving permission, agitated Congress members began protesting. “We were ready for discussion since yesterday”, but the Parliamentary Affairs Minister had made “reckless charges”, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said referring to the AgustaWestland issue.As the din continued, a visibily irritated Mahajan wondered whether the Opposition did not want work done today also as she adjourning the proceedings till noon. Even as the uproar continued, one question was taken up during the Question Hour. However, nothing much could be heard in the din. TMC members, who were in the Well, were also protesting against demonetization. The House has seen a virtual washout of proceedings since the Session began on November 16.

Winter Session of Parliament concludes today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Winter Session of Parliament is ending on Friday though the chaos continued to reign in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha yesterday following continuous uproar on issues such as demonetization and AgustaWestland case.Both treasury and opposition benches traded charges on each other for continuous disruption. The fate of many important legislative bills are still stuck as they were listed for business but did not come up for discussion even once due to protests and sloganeering.The standoff between the treasury and opposition benches in both houses severely hit the legislative business of the month-long session.The Rajya Sabha which took up the discussion on demonetization on first day of the session could not resume it yesterday following ruckus in the house. In the Lok Sabha, the members were not allowed to complete their speech on the issue by the agitated opposition.However amidst din, Payment of Wages Amendment bill was introduced in Lok Sabha. Parliament functioning in this session has dropped to a mere 17%.At the beginning of the session, 19 bills were listed for consideration and passage but only one was passed by Parliament. Out of the nine bills listed for introduction, only three were introduced.

VVIP Chopper scam: Soniaji had nothing to do with it, claims AK Anthony

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing relentless opposition fire over demonetization, top guns of the Modi government latched on to news reports about alleged kickbacks in the AgustaWestland chopper deal under the erstwhile UPA rule, demanding that a debate on it should take precedence over all other discussions. The main opposition Congress termed the demand as a “diversionary” tactic to avoid a Parliamentary debate on the note ban.As Parliament headed for a near-complete washout of the winter session over demonetization logjam, with just a day left for it to conclude, senior Ministers in the Modi government pounced on media reports to target Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the alleged kickbacks in the VVIP chopper deal, insisting that she respond to the charges.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar demanded that Sonia speak on the issue, while Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the Congress should face the AgustaWestland heat “first” before Parliament discussed any other issue.Naidu demanded that Parliament discuss the chopper scam as many names had cropped up in the “diary” of alleged middleman Christian Michel which was published in a section of the media.”I would like Parliament to discuss about the serious diary bomb which has been published in newspapers today. It’s a very serious issue because it is a matter which was placed before the Italian court and then names of certain people have also been given in alphabets of course. “The report says six million euros (have been paid) to Air Force officers, 8.4 million to bureaucrats and 16 million to politicians. We must try to reach the bottom of the truth, and as the House is in session, we must discuss this in the House because this is the biggest scam in the recent years that too pertaining to defence deals that happened during the UPA regime,” Naidu said.Alleging that the erstwhile UPA government “successfully prevented” the truth from coming out, Naidu said, “Now that there is a change of government, the inquiry has to be expedited and then nation also has to be told who is behind all this.””My advice to them is, first face this Agusta heat, respond to these allegations and then discuss other issues also. The government has no problem,” he said.Senior Congress leader A K Antony sprang to Sonia’s defence, saying she had no role in the procurement of the helicopters and that BJP will make a “laughing stock” of itself if it dragged her into the controversy.He also said that the way BJP leaders were claiming that CBI “will nail the culprits in two months” was not good for the agency investigating the AgustaWestland chopper deal.”CBI is working under the directions of BJP, is that what they (BJP members) are attributing. I feel sorry. Don’t tarnish the image of CBI like that,” the former Defence Minister said.”Soniaji has no role. There is no connection with Soniaji. Helicopters are meant for the use of President, Vice President and the Prime Minister. Soniaji has nothing to do with that. In the Italian court itself it was mentioned,” he told reporters. Antony said Sonia had no connection with the decision, because the driving force behind the procurement was the Indian Air Force. “They were telling that because the old Russian-made helicopter is not safe for VVIP travel. They wanted to change it. So 1999 onwards this procurement was there,” he said. He claimed that the utterances of BJP members showed that CBI is “under their thumb”. “What CBI is going to do within two months if BJP is saying. It is too much. That is, they are attributing that CBI is under their thumb, that is not good,” he said.With a united opposition unsparing in its attack on the government, Ananth Kumar said the government was ready to discuss demonetization but the opposition should allow a debate on the chopper deal.”We also want a discussion on the alleged currency management (note jugad) at the Congress headquarters. We also want a discussion on AgustaWestland kickbacks. The name of UPA government’s first family was also mentioned by Christian Michel. There should be discussion on this in the House,” he said.”We are ready for debate on demonetization in both Houses since day one. We were ready yesterday and we are ready today as well. But since the first day Rahul Gandhi, Congress and other opposition parties have been running away from debate,” Kumar told reporters outside Parliament.Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the government was “running away” from discussion on demonetization and raking up issues like AgustaWestland to divert the attention from note ban.”They (members of Treasury benches) are bringing big, big posters of AgustaWestland in the House. What is this? This is for diverting the issue of demonetization. They are trying one or the other excuse for adjourning the House,” he said. Kharge said AgustaWestland issue has “already been discussed before two sessions” and “all the documents were presented” at that time.”AgustaWestland has been discussed but demonetization not. Their intention is to divert. Hit and run (policy)…If you want to discuss now, then bring it under different rule.We are ready for discussion. Why do you want to divert the issue of demonetization?” Kharge asked.

AgustaWestland: Govt dares Sonia Gandhi to respond to allegations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Government dared Congress President Sonia Gandhi to respond in Parliament to allegations against her party over AgustaWestland scam, claiming that the opposition party is stalling both Houses as it has a lot to hide.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar targeted Sonia as the government and opposition stepped up the blame- game over disruption of Parliament proceedings.He also attacked Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, saying “those who are speaking about transparency, integrity and credibility from roof top, why are they not ready to debate about AgustaWestland.”The Minister demanded that the Congress President speak on the issue of chopper scam and “note jugaad”, a reference to allegation that its worker had offered to exchange old currency notes for new.Taking on TMC and Left parties, Kumar questioned their “silence” on the issue of AgustaWestland and said do they subscribe to Congress stand on the chopper scam “as they have not uttered a single word on this”.Blaming Rahul for stalling of both houses, Kumar lashed out at the Congress leader, calling him “mastermind of gagging the Parliament.””The only other time when Parliament was gagged in this manner was during Emergency period,” he alleged.Justifying government’s position in Parliament, Kumar said it tried everything possible to initiate the debate in both houses and was ready to consider both feedback and criticism of the opposition over the issue of demonetisation.In all meetings, the opposition parties were in favour of action against corruption and black money, though they had issues about implementation of demonetisation move which they should have raised in the house, he said.”The whole debate is lost due to myopic strategy of Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Left parties.Government persuaded them but they were not ready for reconciliation,” Kumar added.

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: CBI sends Letter Rogotary to 8 countries, including UAE and Switzerland

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: CBI sends Letter Rogotary to 8 countries, including UAE and Switzerland

‘);
FB.XFBML.parse();
*/
});

By Updated: Dec 15, 2016 17:29 IST

Dec 15, 2016

  • 17:28(IST)

  • 17:07(IST)

  • 16:54(IST)

  • 16:47(IST)

  • 16:39(IST)

  • 16:36(IST)

  • 16:21(IST)

  • 15:34(IST)

  • 15:16(IST)

  • 14:47(IST)

  • 14:45(IST)

  • 14:18(IST)

  • 14:12(IST)

  • 19:35(IST)

  • 19:28(IST)

  • 19:25(IST)

  • 19:22(IST)

  • 19:07(IST)

  • 19:04(IST)

  • 19:00(IST)

  • 18:38(IST)

  • 18:33(IST)

  • 18:30(IST)

  • 18:28(IST)

  • 18:20(IST)

  • 18:14(IST)

  • 18:10(IST)

  • 18:09(IST)

  • 18:06(IST)

  • 17:59(IST)

  • 17:53(IST)

  • 17:51(IST)

  • 17:49(IST)

  • 17:44(IST)

On Friday the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested former Air-force chief SP Tyagi in relation to the Agusta Westland chopper scam. The CBI also arrested Gautam Khaitan, Delhi-based lawyer and Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie Tyagi, ANI reported.

Reuters

Reuters

All three arrested on the allegations of who accepted illegal gratification for exercising influence through corrupt and or illegal means, said the CBI.

In February 2010, the Congress-led UPA government signed a government contract with UK-based AgustaWestland to buy 12 AW101 helicopters for the Indian Air Force for Rs 3,600 crore. The purpose of this deal was to have chopppers fly VVIPs like the president, prime minister and others.

In 2013, however, the deal was put on hold by the government after Bruno Spagnolin, CEO of AgustaWestland and Guiseppe Orsi, chairman of the Italian parent company Finmeccanica, were arrested on charges of bribing middlemen to acquire the deal with Indian Air Force. The following day, then Defence Minister AK Antony ordered a probe into the matter.

Early in 2014, the Italian court investigating the chopper scam names former chief of the IAF, SP Tyagi in the scam, stating that he was bribed by Finmeccanica to sign the deal with AgustaWestland.

In 2015, however, reports of Tyagi’s acquital by the Italian court appeared, stating that there was no corruption by Indian officials.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 17:29 IST

Comment using Disqus

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

LIVE Australia Vs Pakistan Live Score

AUS vs PAK | Dec 15th, 2016

AUS 288 3 90.0

RUNS

WKTS

OVERS

Cricket Scores

Rahul claims to have explosive info against PM; Cong sources say they don’t know what he wants to say

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After his remarks that ‘earthquake’ will come if he is allowed to speak in Parliament, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday created another flutter, by putting a needle of suspicion on Prime Minister Modi’s personal integrity.Addressing the media, along with the leaders of other opposition parties, after the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day, he claimed the information with him will blow up the PM’s “gubbara” (balloon), but insisted that he would reveal it only in the House.Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenged Rahul to expose Modi. He tweeted: “If Rahul Gandhi actually has papers on Modi ji’s personal involvement in corruption, they why doesn’t he expose it outside Parliament.” Nationalist Congress Party MP Tariq Anwar said it is for the first time that the Opposition is being blocked from speaking.”It’s a government controvesy,” he said, pointing out how Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar himself led the BJP tirade to force adjournment of the House. Trinamul Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who was also with Rahul at the media briefing, said the entire Parliamentary system was under threat as the government was not allowing the House to function or Opposition to speak. “So much arrogance on the part of the government to gag the voice of the Opposition,” he said.Rahul seems having not revealed the information even to his party MPs or other opposition leaders rallying around him. The party sources said they don’t know what he wants to say, but they said he wants to say in Parliament to have the privilege of not being dragged into courts for yet another defamation case.Earlier in the Lok Sabha, Congress members were agitated against Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s decision to allow Bhartruhari Mahtab of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to raise the issue of AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam. Congress president Sonia Gandhi too was seen protesting against Mahajan’s decision.With members of Congress, Trinamool Congress and others raising slogans in the Well, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar fired a fresh salvo at the Opposition, citing a sting operation aired on TV channels to allege that Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party leaders had joined hands to “finish off” the government’s efforts to bolster the white economy. Opposition members were also heard raising slogans against Union Minister Kiren Rijiju over an alleged case of corruption in an Arunachal Pradesh hydel project.Raising the AgustaWestland issue, Mahtab expressed concern over defence purchases in the wake of the arrest of former air chief S P Tyagi in the case. Accusing both the previous United Progressive Alliance government and the current BJP dispensation of ‘sleeping over’ the case for a long time, he said an impression is going around that Tyagi’s arrest had something to do with politics and asked the government to clear the air.

VVIP chopper scam: SP Tyagi’s CBI remand extended for three days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi’s will undergo further custodial questioning for three more days as CBI told a court on Wednesday that AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam was a “very serious” case requiring his interrogation to unearth the larger conspiracy as the “interest of the nation was compromised”.Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar extended his custody till December 17 along with that of his cousin Sanjeev alias Julie and advocate Gautam Khaitan, also accused in Rs 450 crore chopper deal bribery case. CBI, however, had sought extension of their custody by seven days, saying, “Its a very wide and serious case and some accused and firms from abroad were also involved in the conspiracy. Right now we are handicapped due to want of material. It is a very high-profile case and we need proper material. One part of the crime was committed in India while various other angles are in foreign land,” CBI said, noting that it has received help from various countries including Italy, Mauritius, Switzerland and the UK.The agency said that their further custodial interrogation was required to reach the bottom of the conspiracy. However, the counsel appearing for SP Tyagi opposed CBI’s plea, saying that he was “a decorated war hero of the nation” and “CBI, which was termed as ‘a caged parrot’ by the Supreme Court, is trying to tarnish his image”. “The FIR only says that the ex-ACM ‘also’ received some amount of cash. It is just a vague allegation,” Tyagi’s counsel said.The counsel submitted that SP Tyagi has already been confronted with his cousin and enough confrontation had taken place much before his arrest. “This arrest was made only for humiliation and not for confrontation,” the counsel said.The court had on December 10 sent the three accused to four days’ CBI custody, which expired on Wednesday, in the case related to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime. During the last hearing, Tyagi’s counsel had claimed that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was also a part of it.CBI had alleged that Tyagi had “abused his official position” and when he was the Air Chief Marshal, he had made huge investments in land and other properties and had not disclosed the source his income. Tyagi’s counsel had refuted CBI’s claim, saying, “As per the allegations, conspiracy and money transaction were going on much before my client came into picture.” The counsel appearing for the other two arrested accused had also opposedCBI’s case saying the FIR was lodged over three years ago and there were no fresh grounds to arrest them at this stage. CBI, however, had alleged that Khaitan was the “brain” behind how the bribe money reached India and several firms through which the money travelled came into existence and Sanjeev was known to alleged European middleman Carlo Gerosa.71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by the agency in connection with the case.

VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi drags in then PMO, says I am not running away

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was a day of high drama in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Sujit Saurabh on Saturday when SP Tyagi, former Air Force chief, was sent to four days’ police custody, following his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday for allegedly receiving kickbacks in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal.The prosecution and the defence dropped high-profile names and levelled allegations against each other’s clients in a hearing that lasted for over three hours. In fact, the judge said that if he allowed the proceedings to continue, they will end only after three days.The highlight of the day came when Tyagi, who requested the court to speak in his own defence. This was after the prosecution accused him of buying agricultural land between 2005 and 2007 when he was the IAF chief.While the prosecution argued that fresh evidence had cropped up as a result of a judicial request the CBI had sent to some countries seeking information on the scam, the defence were belligerent, suggesting that the decision to procure the choppers came from the then Prime Minister’s Office.Tyagi is accused of influencing the IAF’s decision to tailor chopper specifications to suit Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland’s bid, resulting in what is now known as the Rs 3,726-crore AgustaWestland chopper scam.The CBI claims that kickbacks worth Rs 423 crore were paid through various middlemen, who routed the money using a maze of shell companies. Tyagi’s lawyer Gautam Khaitan and cousins Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep are also accused of making the deal possible.”Yes, I have bought land and sold it off, too. But I started buying land from 2002 onwards, and if that proves I am corrupt, I have nothing to say. I can provide them (CBI) with the land records and all the data they need. Everything is accounted for,” the former IAF chief said. He said that if the alleged land deals were the basis for his arrest, he wanted to let the CBI know that he will be not be running anywhere and was ready for questioning.”Whenever the CBI asked me to come, I did that. If they want to ask anything, I am ready, I am not running away. I am not going anywhere, I am here,” the 71 year-old said. He added that the CBI had been treating him well. Sanjeev and Khaitan were also arrested on Friday.The magistrate sent the three accused to police custody till December 14. The CBI had sought a 10-day custody, claiming crucial information was collected from three countries — Italy, Switzerland and Mauritius – – via letters rogatory (LR) and they wanted to confront the accused with it. The prosecution also told the court that CBI had collected evidence from the Switzerland residence of Guido Haschke, the Swiss-Italian businessman accused in the FIR. The prosecution said the evidence was collected from Haschke’s mother.Defence counsel Siddharth Luthra opposed the CBI plea, citing multiple reasons. One of them was that the FIR was registered over three years ago and there was no fresh ground for the arrests now. The counsel also cited a separate probe into the chopper scam by the Enforcement Directorate, in which Khaitan was given bail and that no evidence had emerged to link Tyagi. The defence argued that since Tyagi had been cooperating with the probe agency and had appeared before the CBI whenever he was summoned, there was no need for custodial interrogation.”The arrest is only to use third-degree methods on the accused. By third degree, I don’t torture but what the CBI does is not any less either,” said Luthra. Hitting back at the defence, the prosecution said that the CBI was a premier agency of the country and does not arrest anyone randomly.CHARGESSP Tyagi: Allegedly met middlemen, accused of securing the deal, seven times when he was the Air Force chief. The Milan Court of Appeals had ruled that the contract involved payoffs to Indian officials, including Tyagi. The CBI is yet to establish if the money reached Tyagi.Sanjeev Tyagi: Sanjeev alias Julie, a cousin of Tyagi, made acquaintance with Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa and signed a consultancy contract with Gordian Services Sarl in Tunisia. Gordian Services belonged to Haschke and Gerosa, both accused in the scam. The agency found out that after May 2004, 1.26 lakh euros and 2 lakh euros after February 2005, camouflaged as consultancy fee, were paid to the Tyagi brothers as kickbacks.Gautam Khaitan: Accused of setting up shell companies that received huge amounts of kickbacks. Bruno Spagnolini, CEO of AgustaWestland, started giving payoffs to Haschke and Gerosa Gordon Services Sarl. Khaitan, legal advisory to IDS Infotech, introduced the middlemen to Satish Bagrodia and Partab K Aggarwal, managing directors of IDS. This firm received 2.166 million euros from Agusta between November 2007 and April 2010.FAMILYSPEAKSeveral members of the Tyagi family accused the government of raking up the issue to divert attention from demonetization. “The government had done a major blunder by introducing demonetization and now wants to divert public attention by arresting a former IAF chief,” said one family member, who did not wish to be named. Another family member, also requesting anonymity, said: “Chief (SP Tyagi) is 71 and a heart patient. He underwent an eye surgery 10 days ago but nothing stopped the current dispensation from taking him to court. He has fought three wars for the country and we are hopeful he will come out of this as well.”

VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi says PMO was part of ‘collective decision’ in favour of AgustaWestland

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Delhi court on Saturday sent former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, arrested in the Rs 450 crore AgustaWestland bribery case in procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters, to police custody for four days after the CBI said he was needed to be quizzed to unearth a “very large conspiracy having international ramifications”.His cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie and advocate Gautam Khaitan, also accused in the procurement of VVIP choppers from the UK-based company during UPA-2 regime, were also sent to police custody till December 14.Metropolitan Magistrate Sujit Saurabh sent them to CBI custody saying their custodial interrogation was required for a “fair probe” in the case. During the proceedings, CBI sought 10 days’ custody saying it was a “very large conspiracy having international ramifications”.However, the counsel appearing for the accused, opposed CBI’s plea saying FIR in the case was registered over three years ago and there was no fresh ground for the arrests now.Senior advocate N Hariharan, who appeared for the former IAF chief, claimed that the decision to procure 12 VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and the Prime Minister Office (PMO) was also a part of it.”It was a collective decision and not his (Tyagi’s) individual one. It was a collective decision of which PMO was also a part,” he told the court. The CBI alleged that Khaitan was the “brain” behind how the bribe money reached India and several companies through which the money travelled came into existence.While seeking their custodial interrogation, the agency said the accused were required to be confronted and their assistance was needed to collect evidence and details of the bribe amount paid by AgustaWestland through different back channels abroad.It said they were required to be interrogated and confronted with each other and the incriminating evidences.The agency alleged that Tyagi had “abused his official position, and when he was the Air Chief Marshal, he had made huge investments in land and other (properties) and he had not disclosed the source of his income.”It also said the involvement of several others in the entire conspiracy cannot be ruled out. “It was a very large conspiracy having international ramifications. Involvement of others in the conspriracy cannot be ruled out.” The agency claimed that sensitive documents were procured by the firm’s officials and several information regarding the procurement of choppers were conveyed to the firm after which the AgustaWestland got the deal.During the hearing, senior public prosecutor Raj Mohan Chand said that on October 31, 2004, S P Tyagi was appointed the IAF chief and he had to take the charge on January 1, 2005. Till that time, he was attached with the then IAF chief.The agency said at a meeting on March 1, 2005, a fresh tender was issued for procurement of choppers and a U-turn was taken on decisions taken earlier regarding the chopper deal.Under the earlier decision, the choppers had to be twin- engined but after this meeting, at Tyagi’s instance, it was amended to “at least twin-engined”, it alleged.This amendment was intended to make AgustaWestland eligible for entry as its choppers had three engines, the CBI claimed, adding that Carlo Gerosa, the alleged European middleman, and Sanjeev Tyagi were known to each other.Later, another alleged European middleman, Guido Haschke, came in contact with Sanjeev through Gerosa, it said.CBI further alleged that officials of AgustaWestland visited India several times and they, along with Haschke, met Tyagi unofficially and continued their contact.Tyagi’s counsel N Hariharan opposed CBI’s contentions and said the decision to procure the choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective decision of which PMO was also a part”.”The file moved through several levels but I am the only one who has been arrayed as accused,” he said, adding that the investments were made by him post-retirement and there is no ground for seeking his remand. Tyagi’s counsel argued that “the entire material is already with the CBI for sometime and Tyagi joined the probe whenever he was called for. There was a house search a day after the registration of the FIR and CBI had seized all the required materials”.At this stage, S P Tyagi, who was present in the court, told the magistrate, “I can give account of all my land investments if they (CBI) want.”Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, who appeared for Khaitan, opposed CBI’s plea saying “I hope it’s not the consequence of demonetisation which it seems to be. The FIR was lodged over three years earlier and the arrests now are illogical and illegal.”Luthra claimed that Khaitan had attended the probe on various occasions and his arrest was “malafide”.He said Khaitan was arrested in a case registered by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in relation to the chopper deal and had already got bail in the matter.”Khaitan had nothing to do with the award of the contract. They (CBI) just want to torture him. What was the CBI doing for three years? ED has already probed the facilitation of money. Money laundering is not CBI’s jurisdiction. If they did not need me when I was in ED custody, what grounds they have now,” he said, adding that everything said by the CBI against Khaitan was mentioned in ED’s case too.Sanjeev’s counsel also opposed the CBI’s contention saying that the agency was seeking custody after over three years of filing the FIR and there was no ground to keep them in custody.After hearing the arguments, the magistrate remanded the three accused to CBI’s custody till December 14 saying, “considering the seriousness of allegations and gravity of the matter, I am of the considered opinion that CBI custody of the accused is required for a fair probe”. 71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on Friday by the agency.These are the first arrests in the case by CBI which came three years after it registered an FIR in 2013 to probe the allegations in the aftermath of details of the scam emerging in Italy where the prosecutors levelled allegations of corruption in the deal against the chief of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland.CBI had alleged that in 2005, Tyagi had agreed to change long held stand of Indian Air Force that minimum operational ceiling of the VVIP helicopters should be 6000 metres.Tyagi allegedly influenced the decision to reduce it to 4500 metres which brought AgustaWestland into the running for the deal when its choppers were not even qualified for submission of bids, CBI sources said.On January 1, 2014, India had scrapped 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 charges of payment of kickbacks of Rs 450 crore by it for securing the deal.On April 7, an Italian court had convicted two top executives of defence major Finmeccanica (AgustaWestland is its subsidiary) for paying kickbacks in the deal.

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: SP Tyagi and two others sent to 4-day CBI custody

How was Tyagi involved in the scam?

According to an earlier report by Firstpost, the Indian Air Force had urged the Defence Ministry to purchase helicopters that were capable of flying in high-altitude areas like Siachen and Tiger Hill. After careful evaluation of the AW101, it was ascertained that it was not capable of flying 6,000 m and above and could only reach up to 4,572 feet.

The alleged middleman in the deal, Guido Haschke, revealed that while AW101 did not meet the technical requirements of the IAF, the deal was signed after
Haschke tweaked the contract with the help of his Indian contacts.

​AgustaWestland allegedly paid €30 million in bribes, of which €20 million was routed through Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

A CBI report that came in later said that prior to Tyagi being appointed as Air Force chief, the IAF had ‘’vehemently opposed’’ the lowering of the altitude requirement. This changed after Tyagi came into the picture and the IAF “conceded to reduce” altitude requirements, allowing AgustaWestland to re-enter the bidding process.

Initial investigations by the Italian prosecutor said that Tyagi had personally met Haschke before, and that the bribery took place via Tyagi’s cousins Julie, Sandeep and Dosca. Tyagi, however, has denied any claims of having met Haschke.

In investigations by the Milan Court of Appeals, particularly in its 225-page judgment, Tyagi’s name appeared more than once. The judgment said, “So, in the absence of contrary indications, it must be concluded that the reward bestowed to ‘Tyagi family’ for their work in support of AW in relation to the race of the Government (of) India for military helicopters amounts to €10,500,000.”

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: Incident acts adversely on IAF’s reputation, says chief Arup Raha

How was Tyagi involved in the scam?

According to an earlier report by Firstpost, the Indian Air Force had urged the Defence Ministry to purchase helicopters that were capable of flying in high-altitude areas like Siachen and Tiger Hill. After careful evaluation of the AW101, it was ascertained that it was not capable of flying 6,000 m and above and could only reach up to 4,572 feet.

The alleged middleman in the deal, Guido Haschke, revealed that while AW101 did not meet the technical requirements of the IAF, the deal was signed after
Haschke tweaked the contract with the help of his Indian contacts.

​AgustaWestland allegedly paid €30 million in bribes, of which €20 million was routed through Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

A CBI report that came in later said that prior to Tyagi being appointed as Air Force chief, the IAF had ‘’vehemently opposed’’ the lowering of the altitude requirement. This changed after Tyagi came into the picture and the IAF “conceded to reduce” altitude requirements, allowing AgustaWestland to re-enter the bidding process.

Initial investigations by the Italian prosecutor said that Tyagi had personally met Haschke before, and that the bribery took place via Tyagi’s cousins Julie, Sandeep and Dosca. Tyagi, however, has denied any claims of having met Haschke.

In investigations by the Milan Court of Appeals, particularly in its 225-page judgment, Tyagi’s name appeared more than once. The judgment said, “So, in the absence of contrary indications, it must be concluded that the reward bestowed to ‘Tyagi family’ for their work in support of AW in relation to the race of the Government (of) India for military helicopters amounts to €10,500,000.”

AgustaWestland and sleazy deals by Tyagi brothers: Morale of defence forces take the biggest hit

When the AgustaWestland scam erupted in May this year both inside and outside of Parliament, I wrote that “the two-term regime of the UPA… left behind a sprawling trail of institutional destruction.” Former Air Chief S P Tyagi’s arrest by the CBI in connection with the same case must be viewed in this light. While this is the first time a former Air Chief has been arrested, and as unfortunate as it is, it raises several important points.

The first is obviously, the industrial-scale compromise of institutions at the highest levels, a case of the proverbial fence preying on the field. It appears that no institution has been spared of the toxic game of political favouritism. Equally, those that don’t play this game have their professional and personal reputations sullied— among other damages— as the case of the former CAG Vinod Rai shows. Or, closer home, the fact of how General V K Singh was hounded because he took on the omnipotent arms lobby.

The second is more specific to India’s defence establishment, which to say the least is soaked in almost every conceivable misdemeanour. Tragically, this is a subject about which very little has been written—beyond some superficial ethical homilies, there has been no definitive book or investigative report at least hinting at the contours—if not delving into details—of this very critical subject. While the reasons for it are understandable—given the high level of secrecy and dangers associated, it is neverthelessan endeavour that needs urgent attention.Neither is corruption in the defence establishment restricted to India. Transparency International assesses this problem with its key factors thus:

With huge contracts and high secrecy, the defence sector poses unique corruption risks. In 2010 alone, the sector as a whole spent the equivalent to Russia or India’s GDP, but how much of that money can we follow? We estimate at least US$ 20 billion is lost to corruption in the sector every year. And that is only a modest estimation of the costs incurred when national security concerns become a veil to hide corrupt activity. Single source contracts, unaccountable and overpaid agents, obscure defence budgets, unfair appointments and promotions, and many more forms of corruption in this secretive sector waste taxpayer funds and put citizens’ and soldiers’ lives at risk.

When we closely examine the timeline of the AgustaWestland case, most of these factors strike as eerily familiar, almost like checkboxes that one can tick off.

Former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi. PTI

If a former Air Chief staff can be arrested on grounds of accepting dirty money to broker a deal, the point is really not about his guilt or innocence — the point is more about how he even allowed fingers to be pointed at him. Tragically, the timeless truth in “Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion” hasn’t rung true in this case. But he isn’t alone: Wikileaks cables reveal how back in the 1970s, Rajiv Gandhi acted as a negotiator lobbying on behalf of the Swedish Viggen fighters. The then Air Marshal OP Mehra’s son-in-law Navin Behl was alleged to be lobbying on behalf of Viggen’s competitor, Mirage.

Indeed, the aforementioned timeline investigations reveal quite a bit. The most crucial of these revelations is the fact that but for the 2012 expose of this corruption in the Italian media, the AugustaWestland deal would have been successful with none the wiser. Bears an uncanny similarity with the Bofors arms scandal that was first reported on Swedish radio, doesn’t it?

Let’s also not forget the fact that the same Tyagi was referred to as a “gorgeous girl” by shady arms dealers, a shameful epithet that this Firstpost piece says “reduced him to the level of a gangster’s moll, a Mona Darling to Lion.”

There’s just no other way to put this: it’s a matter of national shame that the highest officer of India’s key defence arm should subject himself to such epithets. The other curious fact is the inexplicable involvement of Tyagi’s cousin, Sanjiv Tyagi in the deal, who too, was arrested by the CBI on Friday.

At the very minimum, this should’ve raised questions concerning conflict of interest.Then there’s the matter of their lawyer-businessman-friend, Gautam Khaitan who was arrested as well. This is not his first arrest though: in September 2014, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested him on allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore deal.

It could also be argued that Tyagi has become a political scapegoat while the real movers and shakers party on unharmed. Yet, the involvement of Sanjiv Tyagi and Khaitan (who was on the board of Aeromatrix, a front company through which the chopper deal money was routed) tells a different story.

In a way, Tyagi’s arrest is the culmination of the process that began with the FIR that the CBI filed against him in March 2013. At the moment, the name of the other key player in the sordid deal, Christian Michel, does not figure prominently. But it has once again underscored the powerful and dangerous clout of the arms lobby in the highest corridors of power, some contours of which were revealed by defence minister Manohar Parikkar.

Indeed, the role of the arms lobby is a recurrent theme in the case of arms lobbyist Sanjay Bhandari, a once-obscure businessman who swiftly gained proximity to the first family members of Congress, including Robert Vadra and Sonia Gandhi. Among his other achievements, his firm OIS lobbied hard with the Defence Ministry and won a Rs 4,000-crore basic trainer aircraft contract on behalf of the Swiss firm Pilatus.

And in both cases, the media was on the take. Note how Christian Michel had earmarked about Rs 45 crores to “manage the media,” and Bhandari had done the same, too — a May 2016 Outlook investigation revealed how “a senior, Delhi-based journalist with an English daily is also under the scanner. His call data records show that he made at least 478 calls to Bhandari.”

Perhaps the real truth about AgustaWestland will never be known but what is undeniable is the impact such sleazy deals have on the morale of the defence forces. It’s akin to how high-level corruption in civilian life sends a signal down to the last peon that it’s ok to be less than honest.What direction the AgustaWestland case takes is hard to predict but the one good thing it has done, similar to what the demonetization effort has done, is to expose the scale, manner, and innovative devices of corruption that had occurred at all levels.

Or to quote the Mitrokhin Archives, which damningly said this about the India of the 1970s: “(The KGB) had scores of sources throughout the Indian Government — in intelligence, counterintelligence, the Defence and Foreign Ministries, and the police…It seemed like the entire country was for sale; the KGB — and the CIA — had deeply penetrated the Indian government.”

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 14:47 IST

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: CBI to seek 14-day remand in custody for SP Tyagi and other accused

How was Tyagi involved in the scam?

According to an earlier report by Firstpost, the Indian Air Force had urged the Defence Ministry to purchase helicopters that were capable of flying in high-altitude areas like Siachen and Tiger Hill. After careful evaluation of the AW101, it was ascertained that it was not capable of flying 6,000 m and above and could only reach up to 4,572 feet.

The alleged middleman in the deal, Guido Haschke, revealed that while AW101 did not meet the technical requirements of the IAF, the deal was signed after
Haschke tweaked the contract with the help of his Indian contacts.

​AgustaWestland allegedly paid €30 million in bribes, of which €20 million was routed through Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

A CBI report that came in later said that prior to Tyagi being appointed as Air Force chief, the IAF had ‘’vehemently opposed’’ the lowering of the altitude requirement. This changed after Tyagi came into the picture and the IAF “conceded to reduce” altitude requirements, allowing AgustaWestland to re-enter the bidding process.

Initial investigations by the Italian prosecutor said that Tyagi had personally met Haschke before, and that the bribery took place via Tyagi’s cousins Julie, Sandeep and Dosca. Tyagi, however, has denied any claims of having met Haschke.

In investigations by the Milan Court of Appeals, particularly in its 225-page judgment, Tyagi’s name appeared more than once. The judgment said, “So, in the absence of contrary indications, it must be concluded that the reward bestowed to ‘Tyagi family’ for their work in support of AW in relation to the race of the Government (of) India for military helicopters amounts to €10,500,000.”

Italian job does former air chief Tyagi in

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev and senior advocate Gautam Khaitan were on Friday arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for their alleged roles in the infamous Rs 3,726-crore VVIP chopper case, also known as the AgustaWestland scam. It is for the first time that a former IAF chief is being arrested in a corruption case.CBI sources told DNA that Tyagi had allegedly met middlemen accused of securing the controversial deal seven times when he was the Air Force chief. They said that the three were called to the agency headquarters at Lodhi Road and questioned for hours before being taken into custody.The arrests come about eight ( 8 or 9?) months after The Milan Court of Appeals — equivalent to an Indian high court — ruled that the AgustaWestland contract involved payoffs to Indian officials, including Tyagi.Tyagi is accused of influencing the IAF’s decision to tailor chopper specifications to suit Italian multinational Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland. The service ceiling (height of flying capacity) was brought down from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres, without taking into account the concerns of the Ministry of Defence.According to CBI officials, the Air Force “conceded to reduce the service ceiling from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres as mandatory with Tyagi’s approval.” Tyagi is alleged to have met AgustaWestland middlemen seven times – from 2004 to 2007 – and travelled to Italy thrice after his retirement. CBI sources said that it was in 2004, when Tyagi was vice-chief, that Finmeccanica approached him for the first time.Sources told DNA that Tyagi allegedly met Georgio Zapa, Chief Operating Officer (COO) the of Italian aerospace and defence group, almost three months after he became the IAF chief. CBI officials said that the reported meeting took place on February 15, 2005.On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks of Rs 423 crore. The CBI alleged that the bribes were routed through multiple companies in India and abroad and involved middlemen and other individuals, including British national Christian Michel and Italian nationals Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius have also been named by the CBI. Even more interesting is the role of Tyagi’s three cousins – Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep (known as Tyagi brothers) – who have been accused of using the influence of their cousin brother for securing the deal.CBI documents accessed by DNA detail the cosy relationship of the accused with the IAF and the level of inroads that the Tyagi brothers made into the Indian bureaucracy through diligent lobbying. Sanjeev was also arrested by the CBI and it is likely that the others named in the FIR will face action.Elaborating on the role of Khaitan, CBI officials said that his alleged role started when Bruno Spagnolini, CEO of AgustaWestland, started giving payoffs to middlemen Guido Ralph Hashke and Carlo Gerosa through a Tunisia- based consultancy named Gordon Services Sarl. Khaitan was previously arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the same case and is accused of setting up shell companies in India before the AgustaWestland deal went through.

AgustaWestland chopper scam: CBI arrests former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, two others

New Delhi: In a sudden and first of its kind action, the CBI arrested former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev, and a lawyer in the sensational Rs 450 crore bribery case in the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters from UK-based AgustaWestland during the UPA-2 government.

Tyagi, 71, who retired in 2007, was called for questioning at CBI headquarters along with his cousin and Chandigarh-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan, who were taken into custody after nearly four hours of grilling, CBI sources said.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

These are the first arrests in the case by CBI, three years after it registered an FIR in 2013 to probe the allegations in the aftermath of the details of the scam emerging in Italy where the prosecutors levelled allegations of corruption in the deal against the chief of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland.

In a statement in the evening, CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh said, “It was alleged that Chief of Air Staff (CAS) entered into a criminal conspiracy with other accused persons, and in 2005, conceded to change IAF’s consistent stand that service ceiling of VVIP helicopters at 6,000 metres was an inescapable operational necessity and reduced the same to 4,500 meters.”

She said such changes in operational requirements (ORs) made the private company based at the UK (AgustaWestland), eligible to participate in the Request for Proposal for VVIP helicopters. “It was revealed during investigation that such undue favours were allegedly shown to said UK-based private company by accepting illegal gratification from the accused vendors through middlemen/relatives including his cousin and an advocate etc. who accepted the illegal gratification for exercising influence through illegal means, or using personal influence over the concerned public servants,” CBI spokepserson said.

Singh said the arrested accused persons will be produced before the competent court on Saturday, where their remand would be sought. In media interviews during the last three years, Tyagi and his cousin had strongly denied having taken any bribes to influence the deal.

Rejecting the allegations, Tyagi had said the change of specifications, which brought AgustaWestland into contention, was a collective decision in which senior officers of Indian Air Force, SPG and other departments were involved. CBI had claimed that Khaitan accepted having taken money from European middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa but insisted it was not kickbacks to influence the deal.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 21:13 IST

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi’s arrest sparks Congress-BJP war of words

How was Tyagi involved in the scam?

According to an earlier report by Firstpost, the Indian Air Force had urged the Defence Ministry to purchase helicopters that were capable of flying in high-altitude areas like Siachen and Tiger Hill. After careful evaluation of the AW101, it was ascertained that it was not capable of flying 6,000 m and above and could only reach up to 4,572 feet.

The alleged middleman in the deal, Guido Haschke, revealed that while AW101 did not meet the technical requirements of the IAF, the deal was signed after
Haschke tweaked the contract with the help of his Indian contacts.

​AgustaWestland allegedly paid €30 million in bribes, of which €20 million was routed through Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

A CBI report that came in later said that prior to Tyagi being appointed as Air Force chief, the IAF had ‘’vehemently opposed’’ the lowering of the altitude requirement. This changed after Tyagi came into the picture and the IAF “conceded to reduce” altitude requirements, allowing AgustaWestland to re-enter the bidding process.

Initial investigations by the Italian prosecutor said that Tyagi had personally met Haschke before, and that the bribery took place via Tyagi’s cousins Julie, Sandeep and Dosca. Tyagi, however, has denied any claims of having met Haschke.

In investigations by the Milan Court of Appeals, particularly in its 225-page judgment, Tyagi’s name appeared more than once. The judgment said, “So, in the absence of contrary indications, it must be concluded that the reward bestowed to ‘Tyagi family’ for their work in support of AW in relation to the race of the Government (of) India for military helicopters amounts to €10,500,000.”

VVIP Chopper scam: CBI arrests former IAF Chief SP Tyagi, 2 others

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi in connection with the AgustaWestland scam, considered as one of the biggest defence scam after Bofors. Gautam Khaitan, a Delhi-based lawyer, and Sanjeev Tyagi, alias, Julie Tyagi, were also arrested by the CBI in this connection. The trio was arrested on the charges of accepting illegal gratification for exercising influence through corrupt and illegal means during the deal. The role of the UPA government and former IAF chief Tyagi in the scam is reportedly validated by an Italian court in the purchase of 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for IAF for Rs 3,600-crores for VVIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister. On April 8, the Milan Court of Appeals ruled that the Rs 3,565 crore AW contract involved payoffs to Indian officials. Overturning a lower court judgement that said corruption could not be proved, the court of appeals found Giuseppe Orsi, the powerful former chief of Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, who headed chopper division AW, guilty of international corruption and money laundering.As per reports, prosecutors in the court produced a note purportedly written by Christian Michel to Peter Hullet, India head of the Anglo-Italian company, in 2008 revealing that he had advised the people handling the VVIP helicopter deal on the company’s behalf to target people close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, including the prime minister and some of her closest advisers, to win the contract. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on May 6, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the UPA regime left no stone unturned to award the VVIP chopper deal to AgustaWestland. Parrikar said the previous regime’s action against the deal was forced by circumstances and the inquiry into it was not initiated until it was unavoidable.The Defence Minister said Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, who are being repeatedly questioned by the CBI in the case, are small people and asked the government to find the big names who received the kickbacks in the deal.Parrikar further said that procurement procedure was not followed in the deal, adding there were also discrepancies in the base price.The Defence Minister further said UPA regime knew about the scam in February 2012, but still three helicopters were delivered in December. He added that the CBI registered an FIR in the matter in March 2013, but the copy of FIR was not forwarded to the Enforcement Directorate till December. Parrikar told the Upper House that the Enforcement Directorate took notice of the case only in July 2014 after the BJ-led NDA came into power.

VVIP choppers deal: CBI to seek extradition of middleman Christian Michel from UAE

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CBI will soon approach UAE authorities seeking extradition of British national and alleged middleman Christian Michel James in connection with its probe in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal.Official sources said the agency will seek cooperation from their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates in order to take the probe forward regarding suspected “bribes paid to politicians and bureaucrats” in the case.Michel is one of the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by CBI and Enforcement Directorate.Both the agencies have notified an Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him even as the ED has already made a similar request to UAE authorities against Michel.Michel, said to a “key” man in the deal, was extensively interviewed by the Indian media in Dubai earlier this year and both the agencies want him to join their respective probes in the said case.ED has filed a charge sheet against him in June under money laundering charges and it had said Michel received Euro 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.It had said that the money was nothing but “kickbacks” paid by the firm to execute the 12 helicopter deal in favour of the firm in “guise of” of genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country.ED had also brought on record, in the charge sheet, that the three middlemen “managed to” make inroads into the Indian Air Force (IAF) to influence the stand of the officials into reducing the service ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m in 2005. AgustaWestland became eligible to supply the dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties after this change.On January 1, 2014, India scrapped 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 charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.CBI had also got issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to multiple countries to gather more leads and evidences in this case.

India asks UK to extradite Mallya, Agusta middleman

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India on Monda asked Britain to extradite nearly 60 people wanted by it, including liquor baron Vijay Mallya and Chirstian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, for bringing them back to face justice here.India and Britain also agreed to hold annual strategic dialogue at the level of Union Home Secretary to jointly deal with issues like terrorism, organised crimes, visa and immigration matters. The Indian list of around 60 wanted people was handed over to Britain during the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Theresa May. Britain also handed over to India a list of 17 people whose custody it seeks under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or against whom Letters Rogatories had been issued, official sources said.While industrialist Vijay Mallya has been accused of money laundering, Chirstian Michel is the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal. The two countries agreed not to allow fugitives and criminals escape law and resolved to facilitate outstanding extradition requests. In talks between Modi and May, the issue of extradition requests figured and officials dealing with the issue from both sides were directed to meet at the earliest.Sources said India expects forward movement in Mallya’s extradition from the UK following the talks. They said the specific issue of Mallya’s extradition had also figured in the talks between the two sides in the run up to the meeting between Modi and May. Asked whether Mallya issue figured in the talks, Joint Secretary (Europe) in the External Affairs Ministry Randhir Jaiswal referred to the Indo-UK joint statement issued after the discussions which said the two Prime Ministers affirmed their strong commitment to enhancing cooperation under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.Former IPL boss Lalit Modi is also evading law in India and today’s talks may help Indian authorities to push for his early extradition as well. Michel is a British citizen and wanted by CBI while Mallya and Modi, who have made the UK their home, are wanted by the ED in money laundering cases. “The two leaders agreed that fugitives and criminals should not be allowed to escape the law. They expressed their strong commitment to facilitate outstanding extradition requests from both sides.”In this context, they directed that the officials dealing with extradition matters from both sides should meet at the earliest to develop better understanding of each countries legal processes and requirements; share best practices, and identify the causes of delays and expedite pending requests,” the statement said.The strategic dialogue between Union Home Secretary and his British counterpart, Permanent Secretary for Home Office, will begin from next year to discuss counter-terror cooperation, ways to deal with organised crimes besides bilateral visa and immigration matters, sources said.This is for the first time India and Britain will have such a mechanism for dealing with security issues. India already has an arrangement with the United States to have annual Homeland Security dialogue at the level of Union Home Minister. In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the two Prime Ministers affirmed their strong commitment to enhancing cooperation under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.”The two leaders agreed that fugitives and criminals should not be allowed to escape the law. They expressed their strong commitment to facilitate outstanding extradition requests from both sides,” it said. In this context, the Prime Ministers directed that the officials dealing with extradition matters from both sides should meet at the earliest to develop better understanding of each countries’ legal processes and requirements; share best practices, and identify the causes of delays and expedite pending requests.They also agreed that regular interactions between the relevant India-UK authorities would be useful for resolving all outstanding cases expeditiously.

None will be spared in AgustaWestland scam: Manohar Parrikar

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday asserted that those involved in the AgustaWestland chopper scam will not be spared.”The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is after them (those involved in the Agusta scam) and none of them will be spared,” Parrikar said while addressing a large gathering here as part of ‘Vikash Utsav’ organised to mark the BJP-led NDA government’s two years in office. Listing Narendra Modi government’s achievements in these two years, the Defence Minister emphasised that the present government has taught as to how to remain clean (corruption-free) even in power.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Parrikar said he valued “integrity” as his most precious possession as a political leader. Lauding the efforts of security personnel deployed in border areas, the Union Minister said these days, infiltration from across the border has declined because nearly 70 to 75 per cent armed infiltrators were eliminated.Parrikar also came down heavily on the BJD regime in Odisha claiming the Naveen Patnaik-government has done nothing to create jobs for the millions of educated youth of the state. “There is plenty of scope to industrialise the state and develop the skills of educated youth so that they can stand up to earn their bread with dignity,” the former Goa chief minister said.Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and state BJP president Basant Panda also spoke on the occasion.

AugustaWestland case: ED conducts raids at 10 places in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate on Monday conducted raids at 10 places in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad in connection with its ongoing money laundering probe in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“ED conducted searches at 10 premises located in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad in AgustaWestland case,” an ED official said.

The official said the agency also issued freezing orders under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against shares worth Rs 86.07 crore owned by companies in Dubai, Mauritius and Singapore.

ED is probing the case in which Rs 360 crore were allegedly paid as kickbacks by Finmeccanica, the parent firm of AgustaWestland, to execute the deal for 12 helicopters in its favour in the “guise of” transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country.

The agency had lodged a case in July, 2014 against former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi, businessman Gautam Khaitan, his wife Ritu, three Italian middlemen – Christian Michel James, Guido Ralph Haschke and Carlo Gerosa – and 13 others in the case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is also conducting separate investigation into the AugustaWestland’s AWA101 helicopter deal.

To probe VVIP Chopper scam & Vijay Mallya case, CBI forms SIT under Gujarat cadre IPS officer

In a move to expedite probe of some high-profile cases, CBI on Thursday formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by an Additional Director which will exclusively investigate important cases like VVIP chopper scam and alleged loan fraud by beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya.Official sources said the SIT will be headed by 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. He was also associated with the Fodder Scam probe.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the sources, the SIT will initially look into the cases like the VVIP chopper scam and alleged bank loan fraud by Mallaya. The probe into the chopper scam after conviction of former heads of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland by an Italian court changed “the understanding” of the investigating agency regarding the Rs 3,600 deal which was allegedly clinched after bribing some Indians, the sources said.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.The SIT will now probe who were the beneficiaries of the kickbacks and ascertain the chain of fund flow. Responses to Letters Rogatory sent in this regard are awaited. Another case the SIT would probe relates to alleged diversion of loans of thousands of crores of rupees taken by Kingfisher Airlines to their foreign accounts.

VVIP chopper case | Italian court order to convict heads changed understanding of AgustaWestland case: CBI

The Italian court order convicting the then heads of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland has changed “the understanding” of CBI in its probe into 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal alleged bribery case, high-ranking sources claimed here today.The sources said the judgment by the Milan Court of Appeals has made it clear that bribes were allegedly paid in the deal which was clinched by UK-based AgustaWestland, a sister concern of Italy-based Finmeccanica.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Italian court order has changed the understanding of the case by CBI. It is being probed who are beneficiaries and even in that we have reached a substantial level as far as domestic angle is concerned. What is left is the chain of fund flow for which responses to Letters Rogatory are awaited,” an official in the know of the probe said.He was asked about the impact of Italian court’s order on the probe carried out by the agency. His response came when he was asked to explain what he meant by “understanding”.The agency has received responses to its Letters Rogatory, a court-to-court judicial request seeking help in probe from the other country, Italy while partial responses were received from Tunisia, British Virgin Islands and the United Kingdom.The responses from UAE (United Arab Emirates), Switzerland and Mauritius are still awaited, they said.Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and the former CEO of AgustaWestland Bruno Spagnolini were held guilty by the Milan court of Appeals, equivalent of High Courts in India, which overturned the lower court’s order.The sources said unless they are able to complete the chain of fund flow from Italy to India, allegedly routed through various countries in the form of various contracts to shell companies, they cannot solve the riddle and file a charge sheet.The agency had registered a case against former IAF Chief S P Tyagi and 12 others including his three cousins and five foreign nationals in the case. Tyagi has denied the allegations.In addition, six companies including Italy-based Finmeccanica, Agusta Westland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Chandigarh based Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius have also been booked by the CBI in its FIR.The allegation against the former Air Chief was that he had reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from altitude ceiling requirement from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000 ft) so that AgustaWestland could be included in the bids.However, this decision was taken in consultation with the officials of SPG and the Prime Minister’s Office.CBI has alleged that reduction of the service ceiling– maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally– allowed the UK-based firm to get into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids.

Make in India means ‘cooking stories’ and ‘making baseless allegations’: Congress hits out at Modi govt

Congress hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming that ‘Make in India’ for him meant “cooking stories” against opposition and “baseless” allegations were being levelled against the party to divert people’s attention from “his embarrassing economic failures”.”From National Herald to AgustaWestland and Ishrat Jahan fake encounter, the BJP has proven itself capable of making baseless accusations, but incapable of substantiating any of their claims,” the party said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a strongly worded commentary posted on its website, the AICC said “if indeed there is any proof of wrongdoing, then is the Modi Government so impotent that they cannot prosecute the guilty” and added that “there is a difference between a strong PM who lets his work do the talking, and a PM so busy talking that he forgets his work”.The attack came as Congress and BJP were engaged in a political slugfest over charges that Robert Vadra may have bought a benami property in London with his mother-in-law and Congress President Sonia Gandhi claiming that everyday false allegations were made as part of a conspiracy of Modi government to make the country “Congress-free”.Vadra’s legal firm has denied the allegations against him.Congress today alleged that the government wanted to blunt all opposition against its “destruction of civil liberties, attack on students, anti-farmer, anti-Dalit and poor economic policy”, which is taking India towards “uncertain and dark times”.It said in the case of AgustaWestland, it was “found” that operational changes were made during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure as PM.”Even Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had to beat a hasty retreat on this issue and said ‘there is no evidence against Congress’,” the party claimed in the commentary titled “For PM Modi, ‘Make in India’ means cooking stories against Opposition “Posing the question whether any allegation of Modi Government proved to be true, it said, “Take the National Herald case or the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter or the AgustaWestland – after creating a hullabaloo, the Government quietly changed its stand in all cases”. Congress asked that if there was even an iota of truth in the Government’s charges, would they not have gone hammer & tongs against Congress leaders.”They haven’t, because the allegations are all baseless. They are being made, and will be made by PM Modi in near future too, only with the intention of diverting people’s attention from his embarrassing economic failures.”.May 2014 gave a great opportunity to Modi to take India to greater heights, it said, insisting that he has “frittered away” the chance completely by choosing “hyper publicity over dedicated work and by attempting to silence allOpposition voices by cooking up false charges against them. ” It claimed Modi’s strategy is simple – create negative hype around Congress party by “planting concocted” stories in media & create positive hype around Government work that “never took place.””The BJP has been leading this attack by employing their dirty tricks department to concoct half baked insinuations & selective leaks to media, to attack Congress President Sonia Gandhi,” the commentary said.”Their latest was on the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, where no less than Union Ministers made public statements hinting at the ‘complicity’ of Smt. Gandhi in ‘falsely targeting’ the then CM of Gujarat, Narendra Modi,” it said.”They launched a slanderous campaign against senior Congress leadership, without realising that two courts found the encounter, which killed Ishrat Jahan to be ‘Fake’.”A magisterial inquiry reported that Ishrat was innocent and was killed only because she was a Muslim and fitted the Gujarat police’s idea of a terrorist,” the party said.Now, even the Home Ministry, in response to an RTI, has said that “there was no proof that Gandhi interfered with the Ministry of Home Affairs”, the party said.”BJP is a party that’s ever busy crafting new allegations, which they keep alive for a few weeks, before moving on,” it alleged.

VVIP chopper deal: Govt to cancel all defence tenders bagged by Finmeccanica

The government has decided to cancel all ongoing tenders for defence equipment won by Italy’s Finmeccanica as a precursor to blacklisting of the firm which is being investigated for bribery in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.This was disclosed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who in an interview to PTI also said that the process for blacklisting Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries has already been started and a note for the same sent to the Law Ministry. “Wherever there is capital procurement of Finmeccanica and their subsidiaries, all Requests for Proposal (RFP) will be closed. I am very clear,” he said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, he said, the annual maintenance and import of spare parts of already acquired defence supplies will be continued with the firm and only fresh capital acquisition is being nixed. The government has already withdrawn the RFP for heavy wight torpedos for Scorpene submarines which was won by WASS, a Finmeccanica subsidiary, during UPA regime. The government is now working out the alternatives. “The blacklisting process has already been moved. If there is a blacklisting for a specific number of years, which will be issued in the order, there will be no transaction by Defence Ministry with that company for capital procurement for that many years,” he said. He stressed that the Ministry has already put on hold new transactions with the company. “In revenue acquisition, where contracts have already been executed, annual maintenance and import of spare parts will be permitted where it is absolutely essential but with proper certification from concerned authority in order to ensure that platform or equipment remains operational,” he said. Emphasising that national security “cannot be compromised” just because the company has done something wrong, he said, “I cannot put six ships of mine out of commission because one spare part is to be imported from some company of Finmeccanica.”

Centre making all efforts to bring back black money, says Jaitley

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday that the government is making “all-out efforts” to unearth black money stashed away in offshore accounts.

Speaking at the India TV’s ‘SAMVAAD’ conclave, he also warned that those who have not utilized the “compliance window” to declare their black money will face sleepless nights.

“We framed the anti-black money law and asked people to disclose their black money and pay 60 percent tax instead of 30 percent plus penalty. In HSBC accounts details, while the UPA government did nothing, we assessed the accounts and filed criminal prosecution against each person. We also assessed and filed prosecutions against holders of Liechtenstein accounts,” Jaitley said.

File image of Arun Jaitley. PTI

File image of Arun Jaitley. PTI

“In Panama (Papers), there are two kinds of people. Few people have kept money outside the country with RBI’s consent and few without it. Notices have been sent to all illegal account holders and inquiries are on,” he added.

He said that during the year, the government detected Rs 71,000 crore domestic tax evasion.

“In our budget, I had announced that starting 1 June this year, whoever has domestic unassessed income, should pay tax with penalty and declare it. Till date, no government took such steps so, you can say all-out efforts are being made to unearth black money,” he said, also challenging the Congress to disclose what steps they had taken to tackle the black money issue.

“I challenge my Congress and UPA friends to tell me what they have done compared to our two year tenure to bring back black money. We are bringing back money through these steps and those who are not declaring through compliance window, will face sleepless nights,” he said.

Jaitley claimed that the the direction in which government is moving is good for the economy and the country.

On the AgustaWestland issue, he said: “The bribe in the deal is clear cut. This is the first case in the world where the bribe-takers are behind the bars, the middleman has been identified but the person who received the bribe is yet to be identified.”

Jaitley also said that his government will not compromise with Congress on the issue of corruption in order to get GST Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha where the government lacks majority.

Unfazed by privilege motion, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy dares Congress, says will teach them the law

Unperturbed by a privilege motion being moved against him, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subramanian Swamy on Friday dared the Congress to do their worst and that he will teach them the real meaning of law.Talking to ANI over Congress moving a privilege motion claiming that documents authenticated by Swamy on the AgustaWestland chopper deal were “bogus”, Swamy said that the grand-old party has lost it completely.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They are irritated of me because I have cornered them in the National Herald case and I exposed them in Parliament. When the privilege motion comes, I will give them the documents,” he said.”First they said I didn’t authenticate the documents and today they are saying that the documents aren’t true,” he added.Swamy further said that he will teach the Congressmen law because they don’t know the mechanism.Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had said that his party will move a privilege motion against Subramanian Swamy and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar claiming that the documents authenticated and tabled by them during the debate on the AgustaWestland chopper deal was “bogus”.The Congress leader said that among the 13 pages Swamy had tabled and authenticated, there was a two-page email that Swamy had sent to himself, nine pages taken from a website.He further said that Congress will file a defamation case against a US-based website, www.pguru.com, whose material was used by Swamy in the Rajya Sabha debate.It alleged that the website is linked to the Sangh Parivar.

VVIP chopper scam: Didn’t know Gandhis personally, lobbying doesn’t mean bribes were paid, says ‘middleman’ Christian Michel

Christian Michel James, alleged to be a middleman in the 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal, has said that although he had described Congress chief Sonia Gandhi as “the driving force” of the deal in a letter in 2008, he did not know the Gandhis personally. Christian made the claims in an interview with NDTV on Thursday and said that lobbying did not imply bribes were paid. He added that he had to prove they are innocent to prove his innocence. “I have to protect the Gandhis to protect myself,” he told the TV channel. However the fact that Michel ‘confirmed’ the veracity of the note where he calls Gandhis as the driving force may be used as potential political ammunition by BJP. Congress so far has steadfastly questioned the authenticity of the note. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also repeated his allegation that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the Italian premier in New York last year, he had offered to release the two Italian marines imprisoned in India in exchange for details on the Agusta deal that could nail Sonia Gandhi. However, the government has denied this.
ALSO READ VVIP chopper scam: Never met Sonia, Manmohan or Anthony, says middleman Christian MichelMeanwhile according to a TOI report, the Enforcement Directorate will soon approach the UAE to extradite Christian James Michel. The UK national also confirmed to the daily that he visited India 180 times between 2005 and 2013. He also said that “kickbacks were paid in the AgustaWestland deal but they went below (then IAF chief) SP Tyagi, not above him”.It is believed that about Rs 250 crore were paid as kickbacks to politicians and officials to clinch the deal.
ALSO READ VVIP chopper scam: Congress leaders should confess their crime, says BJPA court in Italy’s Milan recently sentenced Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and the former CEO of the firm Bruno Spagnolini on corruption charges in the sale of the helicopters.The Italian court had earlier recorded note of prosecutors purportedly written by middleman Christian Michel in March 2008 to Peter Hullet, India head of Anglo-Indian company, revealing that he had advised the people handling the VVIP helicopter deal to target people close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, including the prime minister and some of her closest advisers, to win the contract. “Dear Peter, since Mrs Gandhi is the driving force behind the VIP, she will no longer fly with MI8. Mrs Gandhi and her closest advisers are the aim of the High Commissioner,” said the letter of Michel seized by the probe team.

VVIP Chopper scam: Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh denies allegations made by Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Thursday described as “baseless and politically motivated” the allegations of Swaraj Abhiyan leaders of floating a global tender in a “shady manner” to purchase a specific AgustaWestland helicopter by paying “over 30 per cent” commission without exploring options.”The allegations levelled by former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan are baseless and politically motivated. There was no irregularity in the helicopter deal. It was done through the global tendering process, maintaining full transparency,” the CM said at a press conference at his official residence here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said senior Congress leaders were facing heat over the AgustaWestland chopper deal scam involving corruption to the tune of several crores of rupees and these baseless charges against a BJP-ruled state was “an attempt to divert the attention”.”He (Bhushan) is trying to dilute the issue,” Singh said.Earlier in the day, Swaraj Abhiyan leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav in Delhi accused the Raman Singh government of paying USD 1.57 million as “commission” to a company registered in tax-haven British Virginia Islands to procure the chopper.The two also sought to link Raman Singh’s son Abhishek to the controversy saying he formed a company called Quest Heights Ltd on July 3, 2008, almost six months after the bulk of the payment was made by the state government to Sharp Ocean, an agent company. When asked whether he will pursue legal action against Bhushan, Singh said he will consult his lawyers.”Procurement of the helicopter was done after taking consent from the technical committee constituted for the purpose in the state. Full transparency was maintained in the entire procurement process,” the CM said.The allegations were based on the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report for the year ended March 31, 2011, but the report only pointed out that the delay in procurement of the chopper led to the extra expenditure of Rs 65 lakh, Singh said.Jharkhand had procured the same chopper in 2006, he said, adding the company increased the price for the Chhattisgarh government in 2007. Abhishek, the MP from Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha constituency, also denied his links to the deal. He also denied having offshore bank accounts.”I have nothing to do with it,” Abhishek said in a statement.”I am also being accused of working with Sarda Brothers company. But I want to clarify that Sarda Brothers had never been my employer. All allegations against me are politically motivated, just to malign my image,” he said.

VVIP chopper scam: Never met Sonia, Manmohan or Anthony, says middleman Christian Michel

Chirstian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal, on Wednesday said that he has never met Congress President Sonia Gandhi or the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to push for the purchase of VVIP choppers.”No, never,” was the prompt reply of Michel when he was asked whether he had ever met Gandhi, Singh or the then Defence Minister A K Antony for pushing the deal. “I have never met any of these,” he said in an interview to ‘TV Today’ news channel in Abu Dhabi. Michel sought to clear his name from the kickbacks scam claiming that he had “once” shaken hands with the then IAF Chief S P Tyagi in Delhi but “avoided him” for his links with Italian businessman Guido Haschke and another middleman.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I probably met him (S P Tyagi) in Gymkhana club and I think I shook his hand there. But because of his association with Haschke I really avoided him,” he said. He also said that BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has not lied about the deal but it seems he has been misled. “He has authenticated (documents) what was given in the CAG report. The CAG report was prepared in great hurry as the deal was always blowing away.”They (CAG) are not aviation experts and they are bureaucrats asked to put together document way beyond their expertise. So he was misled by his own documentation,” he said.

VVIP Chopper scam: AK Antony wants Modi to ‘tender apology’ to Sonia Gandhi

Stepping up attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior Congress leader A K Antony on Tuesday said he should tender an apology to Congress President Sonia Gandhi for levelling “baseless allegations” against her in connection with the AgustaWestland deal.”If good sense prevails on him he should tender an apology to Sonia Gandhi. Making such allegations is not suitable for a person holding such a position,” Antony told a meet-the-press programme here. He, however, said he was not expecting an apology from the Prime Minister.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Modi did not speak like a Prime Minister. He spoke like an RSS pracharak. Instead of making such boasts in a public platform, he should have given a reply in Parliament. But he was seen fleeing from Parliament,” the former Defence Minister said, reacting to the Prime Minister’s attack on Congress and its leadership over the controversial VVIP chopper deal.
ALSO READ ‘Show some political decency’, Oommen Chandy writes to PM ModiOn the campaign trail in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Modi had repeatedly raked up the VVIP helicopter scam.”Madam Soniaji, ‘Aap ki Yae himmat (how dare you).’ You and Congress leaders are making statements that false allegations are being made against you. Did Modi or Modi government in the last two years even once take the name of Congress in the helicopter deal?” Modi had asked, addressing an election rally in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday night.The Prime Minister had said the Congress president’s name has been dragged into the deal not by him or anybody in his government but by a court in Italy. Refuting the charges, Antony said Italian court has not named anyone in the AgustaWestland case.He said AgustaWestland came into the picture in 2003 after then National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra played a lead role in reducing the operational requirements for the VVIP chopper. Antony alleged that Modi was trying to weaken Sonia Gandhi and her family hoping that it would help destroy the Congress party.”Modi is a better actor than Amitabh Bachchan,” he said.

Former CM Sheila Dikshit hits back at Kejriwal, asks him to focus on ‘women’s safety’ first

A day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal came all guns blazing on Congress president Sonia Gandhi demanding her arrest in the AgustaWestland case, his predecessor Sheila Dikshit on Sunday called on the AAP chief to first focus his attention on other important issues, including safety of women, in the national capital.”I would request Arvind Kejriwal that women are feeling unsafe and are facing insecurities much more during the AAP government’s time in power. He needs to give importance to women safety. Arvind Kejriwal, who raised questions during our time, must take action now,” Dikshit told ANI here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that Kejriwal was one to never introspect, she added that the Chief Minister must first rectify his own erring way and the flaws in his government before making unwarranted comments on every single thing.
ALSO READ Kejriwal attacks Modi over AgustaWestland issue; says PM doesn’t even dare to ask Soniaji about scam”If women don’t feel secure in the country’s capital, then where will they? Atrocities against women should not be tolerated. I appeal upon Kejriwal Government to take care of such issues, and take steps for women security,” she added.Dikshit’s comments come in the wake of an Ola cab driver being apprehended today after a Belgian national alleged molestation at his hands.The cab service provider issued a statement, saying they have terminated the driver with ‘immediate effect’.Earlier during his attack on the Gandhi family, Kejriwal had also taken a shot at Dikshit and said that he had registered three FIRs against her during his 49-day government in the national capital as he had solid evidence of her involvement in corruption cases.”When we came to power during our 49-day regime, we filed three FIRs against Sheila Dikshit regime, but in two years they haven’t filed a single FIR. The moment I resigned, the cases went to cold storage. After a year, when we again came to power and wanted to get the files opened, Modi was baffled. He sent his paramilitary force to take over the ACB. I challenge him to give the ACB to us and we will tell you how interrogation is conducted and how the corrupt people are sent to jail,” Kejriwal said.

Agusta brings Arvind Kejriwal back to Jantar Mantar

Several months after coming to power, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday came back to Jantar Mantar to launch a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a protest rally on the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.The Aam Aadmi Party, which notoriously earned the name ‘dharna party’ for carrying out agitations and protests on an anti-corruption plank four years ago with activist Anna Hazare, and also during its first stint of 49 days in government in 2013.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Italian company Agusta was involved in corruption and all big officials of this country for the deal had been bribed. But our Prime Minister has not moved an inch in the investigations and nobody has been sent to jail,” Kejriwal said. He was greeted by a loud, cheering crowd and long claps.Alleging a deal between Modi and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Kejriwal said, “Modi doesn’t even dare to ask Soniaji about this scam, we want to ask the prime minister that we made you our PM to punish the culprits but not to protect the culprits.”Lashing out at Modi, Kejriwal alleged that while the PM conducted raids at his office, Sonia Gandhi has not been quizzed or put behind bars. He was referring to the CBI raid at the Delhi secretariat in December last year.Relieving his earlier ‘dharna’ days, Kejriwal thundered, “Four years ago, we all had assembled here at Jantar Mantar. We had assembled here to protest against the corruption of Congress and BJP. We were baton-charged but we did not give up. We were here to protest because we wanted to save our country from graft like the coal scam, 2G scam, Agusta and many more.”Talking about the PM, Kejriwal said, “Modiji made tall promises to the people of this country that he will punish the culprits and will bring them to book. Today, it has been two years and he has done nothing about the corrupt.”The BJP brass has targeted the Congress’ top leadership at the parliament session over the scam over the last few days.The rally is one among the series of attacks launched by Kejriwal on Modi, in the last few months. While Modi has maintained a silence over Kejriwal’s allegations, the Delhi chief minister has often targeted Modi over twitter. A more recent example is Kejriwal’s allegation that the PM faking an educational degree from Delhi University.”It seems that the PM has neither done a BA or a MA. Both degrees are fake. Firstly, he lied to the entire country, secondly, he lied in an affidavit and thirdly, the degrees are forged. This is a case of cheating. If the PM is accused of cheating under (IPC section) 420, this is a serious matter,” he had said earlier.On Friday, Kejriwal linked Modi’s degree with the Agusta scam, saying, “Dono mein badi achchi setting hai. (They have a good deal). BJP is cursing Soniaji (Gandhi) but not arresting her. Congress is not questioning the PM’s degree. BJP and Congress are holding dharnas against each other. Is this country foolish?” he had retorted.

ED’s Agusta charge sheet mum on Modi govt claims

A slew of technical shortcomings with Agusta (AW-101) VVIP choppers are now popping up in official government statements, even as the Rs 3,726 crore deal is caught in controversy. It now unfolds that corruption via kickbacks were encouraged, so that, these major shortcomings – which have now become the basis of political furore between BJP and Congress inside and outside Parliament – will be overlooked.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questionably, though the Enforcement Directorate (ED) chargesheet filed in the case in November, 2014, gives a miss to some of the glaring technical lacunae in AW-101 choppers, which, according to latest revelations by government, were tried to be covered up by those involved in giving and taking the kickbacks. Notably, the ED registered the case under the prevention of money laundering Act (PMLA) on July 3, 2014, more than a month after the current Modi government came to power on May 26. However, it is further notable that ED premised its complaint on the basis of an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on March 12, 2013, when the Congress-led UPA was in power.On Friday, referring to facts that emerged from the field test of the AW-101 choppers, defence minister Manohar Parrikar pointed out in Lok Sabha that serious questions were raised about chopper’s capacity. The helicopters failed test at 5,400 feet in Srinagar and it was clearly flagged to be unsuitable for flying in Gulmarg and Pahalgam. In an elaborate statement, quoting from what he claimed were official files, Parrikar said of Agusta trials that, “effective pay load capacity at MSL in OGE configuration is nil above 30 degree centigrade…meaning that if the temperature is above 30 degree C then it would not be able to lift any load. With day time temperature usually above 10 degree in most of the plains of North India, pay load capacity in OGE configuration is limited to 300 kg, reducing with every degree rise in temperature above 10 degree. Effective pay load capacity at 3,500 feet, AMSL in OGE configuration is nil above minus five degree.” Parrikar also pointed to a “mysterious”fire at the ministry of defence (MoD) on June 3, 2014, that burnt Agusta files and said he will get CBI to investigate it. None of these find a mention in the chargesheet.Former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen are named in the case. According to Parrikar, Tyagi and others, who are accused of reducing flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft), which put AgustaWestland helicopters in the race for the deal, are small fries and it were the Congress-led government of that time that was involved in the larger game of Agusta corruption. If not for change in the ceiling, Agusta choppers couldn’t have qualified for even submission of bids.While the change in ceiling forms part of “facts and circumstances of the case leading to the filing of the (ED) case”, curiously, the CBI complaint that led ED to register a case, reads that the then PMO during UPA rule acted to reduce the ceiling on inputs/suggestions by the Indian Air Force (IAF) only. The facts of the case with the CBI and ED tends to tilt against Tyagi more rather than the government of the day. “It was during the tenure of ACM (retd) SP Tyagi as the chief of air staff and with his approval that air force conceded to reduce the service ceiling to 4,500 metres as mandatory or to which it (IAF) was opposing vehemently on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons,” the ED chargesheet reads.Sukhois too flew in with allegationsMulayam Singh Yadav, as defence minister in 1996 Deve Gowda-led United Front government, signed a $1.8 billion contract to buy up to 50 Russian Sukhoi Su-30 MK – currently India’s frontline fighter jets – even as the IAF was not very keen to get it. According to then reports, IAF then was doing well with the induction of Mirage-2000 and Mig-29 into its fold.On Sukhois, former IAF chief Surinder Kumar Mehra was famously quoted as saying, “It’s a very good machine, but we are not interested”.The chopper now used for VVIPsThe Russian Mi-17 V5s have replaced Mi-8s for VVIP travel in India. The former has been upgraded and specially configured for VVIPs.What the chargesheet doesn’t mention clearly, but Modi govt claimsThe AW (101) failed field trials in Srinagar, Pahalgam and GulmargThat field trials were conducted in UKThat a fire at the ministry of defence burnt sensitive Agusta filesThat it was UPA government and not former IAF chief SP Tyagi who designed Agusta corruptionThose facing the heatFormer IAF chief SP Tyagi Sanjeev aka Julie TyagiDocsa TyagiSandeep TyagiGautam Khaitan (associated with Aeromatrix) Praveen BakshiGiuseppe Orsi (former CEO, Italian defence major Finmeccanica)Bruno Spagnolini, CEO, AgustaWestland (Britain-based subsidiary of Finmeccanica)Guido Ralph Haschke (middleman)Carlo Gerosa (middleman)Christian Michel (middleman)Firms named: FinmeccanicaAgustaWestlandIDS Infotech Ltd (India)Aeromatrix Info Solutions Pvt Ltd (India)

VIP chopper scam: Kejriwal accuses Congress and Modi govt of forging a ‘secret pact’

Launching a scathing attack on the Modi government and Congress over the AgustaWestland chopper scam, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said the Prime Minister does not have “enough courage” to arrest Sonia Gandhi and that the two parties have an “alliance in corruption”.Questioning the Congress on the issue of PM’s alleged “fake” degree, Kejriwal also said that the two parties had a “setting” that the BJP government will not arrest Gandhi in chopper scam and the Congress will not raise the matter of Modi’s educational qualification. “The Italian Court order also has names of Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, certain officers and Congressmen, but Modi is not able to gather enough courage to arrest Sonia Gandhi, to ask her even two questions, to interrogate her…<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Modi ji you have been made PM to take action not to leave the task for Italy court…Our chest would also be of 56 inch if you would have sent her to jail…when my PM says that Italy’s court is taking Gandhi’s name not and not him….I want to ask Modiji why are you scared of her?” Kejriwal said, addressing a rally at Jantar Mantar here. Questioning the progress of the investigation in the chopper deal, Kejriwal alleged that there hasn’t been an “inch” of movement on the probe, despite the Modi government coming to power on the assurances that the corrupt will be taken to task.”What investigation did they do in AgustaWestland case in two years? The Italian government completed investigation, filed the cases in court, judgment came and those who were involved in paying bribe were sent to jail.” “When Anna agitation started, people wanted to change the government…they knew that both Congress and BJP are two sides of the same coin, but Modi ji gave such wonderful speeches before Lok Sabha polls that people’s hopes were build that corruption will end,” Kejriwal said.Noting that during the poll campaigns, Modi said that he will take action against Congress President’s son-in-law Robert Vadra for alleged irregularities in the land deal, but despite being in power for two years, and having state governments in Haryana and Rajasthan, he (Vadra) hasn’t been interrogated even once.”Modi had said that the corrupt will be sent to jail. It has been two years and not a single person has been sent to jail…the country has been cheated and hence we had to again gather against their ‘alliance’ four years after we had gathered at the same place to protest the corruption of these two parties,” he said.

dna Morning Must Reads: Updates on VVIP Chopper Scam; Maharashtra drought; London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan; and more

1. VVIP chopper scam: Tyagi brothers admit to ties with Agusta middlemenAs defence minister Manohar Parrikar mounted an offensive on the Congress in the parliament over the AgustaWestland deal, in a startling revelation, the CBI sources on Friday claimed that former air chief SP Tyagi’s cousins have admitted to having property links with him. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Maharashtra drought: Water transported to Latur is less than a day’s needWhile the entire effort by the railways and state is laudable, the depressing part is that all this water is a full 5 lakh litres less than the daily water requirement of Latur city. Read more here3. Tuesday floor test for Harish Rawat; all eyes on HC decision on rebel MLAsAfter getting Centre’s nod, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered floor test in the Uttarakhand assembly on May 10 for deposed Congress chief minister Harish Rawat to prove his majority. Read more here4. #YesWeKhan: Sadiq Khan declared as the new London mayorThe 45-year-old Opposition candidate takes charge as the first Muslim head of City Hall in London and marks the return of Labour rule to the British capital after eight years of Conservatives in power. Read more here5. Indian Railways attracts Rs 42,000 crore FDI: GovtGovernment on Friday said Indian railways has attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) to the tune of Rs 42,000 crore and will soon float tenders for manufacturing rail coaches in the country. Read more here6. Olympics debutant PV Sindhu seeks inspiration from Saina NehwalExcited to make her maiden appearance in the sporting extravaganza, 20-year-old shuttler says quadrennial event is bigger than World Championships. Read more here7. Salman Khan and Sonia Gandhi should have their apps, too, says Sonam Kapoor Here’s Sonam talking about her new app, her connect with social networking and more over a dozen bouts of laughter. Read more here

Arvind Kejriwal lowering his post’s dignity by hurling ‘unfounded’ charges: BJP

BJP on Friday accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of lowering his chair’s dignity by levelling “unfounded” allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his educational qualification and said it was being done to divert attention from AgustaWestland case involving Congress. “Parties and leaders supporting Congress are levelling unfounded allegations about the Prime Minister’s educational qualification to provide relief to it. It is quite a coincidence that when a serious debate is on over the AgustaWestland case, they are doing so to deflect attention,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He termed the charges as “a complete lie” and said “the post of the Prime Minister has certain dignity. Modi is a popularly elected leader. It is painful to see a chief minister frequently levelling unfounded and petty charges (against him). Arvind Kejriwal is lowering the dignity of the chief minister’s post”. Keeping the issue of Modi’s degree alive, Kejriwal has written to the Delhi University Vice Chancellor and tweeted that forging a degree was a “criminal offence”.

VVIP chopper scam: Anurag Thakur alleges senior Congress leader secretly met with Agusta middleman Christian Michel

BJP’s Anurag Thakur hit out at Congress over the AgustaWestland deal saying that a senior leader from the party had a held a secret meeting in Dubai with the company’s middleman Christian Michel.Thakur said that a Congressman had gone to Dubai to meet with the middleman whose extradition has been sought by India. “Recently a senior Congress leader went and met Christian Michel in Dubai… does the union government know about it?” Mr Thakur asked.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Michel has denied playing any role in the deal and said it was a ploy to topple down the opposition political parties in India and Italy. A court in Italy had earlier named Sonia Gandhi and her advisors in its judgment. Anurag Thakur (BJP) said the way Defence Minister has put his points, truth will come out about “who all have taken the bribe. Was only Tyagi family involved in this? How much time the Defence Minister will take in this investigation, I want to know. If there is any corruption involved, it should be investigated,” he said.Thakur took on the Congress saying the party has “completely ruined the system” and also indulged in corrupt practices.Watch Thakur’s speech in the Rajya SabhaIn all the defence scams, Congress’ involvement is there. “Who are the people involved in the AgustaWestland deal? Why was the company favoured,” he asked.He also asked why an Italian company was chosen for the deal and why the parameters of height changed and “if they were not the original equipment manufacturers, why the contract was given to that company”.Why the field trials happened in a foreign country and not in India, he asked, alleging that people like the SPG chief and the National Security Advisor were given constitutional posts so that they could not be questioned.Thakur said the contract was given to the company by “going out of way. So what does

Sound, fury and a cold trail: Why AgustaWestland may go the Bofors way

Given the glee with which Subramanian Swamy, the maverick politician who was recently nominated to the Rajya Sabha, has taken on the Gandhi family in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, the BJP should be happy that it is no longer the beleaguered party in the Upper House. One determined individual can change the perception game.

However, what makes for good theatre does not necessarily add up to a great strategy even for the BJP. In fact, if it is not careful in how it builds its case, AgustaWestland has all the makings of another Bofors – lot of sound and fury, and ultimately a trail that goes cold.

File image of Sonia Gandhi. PTI

File image of Sonia Gandhi. PTI

It is good that the follies of the Gandhi dynasty are being put through the microscope, but having a go at Sonia Gandhi and Rahul this early in the investigative process is politically counter-productive. The Italian court judgment that named Sonia in the course of a judgment upholding the convictions of executives of the Finmeccanica group for bribery may have embarrassed her, but nothing more. The reality is that there are layers of middlemen between the bribe-givers and the ultimate beneficiaries – or multiple beneficiaries – of the payoffs. The line linking the two is faintly dotted, and it needs a lot of follow-up forensic investigation and chasing of the money trail before the dots can be connected with bold ink.

As things stand now, the only certainties in the AgustaWestland affair are the following: One, the UPA changed specifications to favour AgustaWestland, but this can be justified on some technical ground or the other; it is certain that bribes (possibly amounting to around Rs 400 crore) were paid, and three people – Guido Ralph Haschke, Carlos Gerosa, and Christian Michel – were the key channels handling the flows. Former air chief SP Tyagi’s family was a key recipient of some of the money.

The political references in the Milan court judgment, which form the basis on which the BJP would like to target Sonia, emerge from a note allegedly written by Christian Michel where he advises people pushing the Agusta deal to focus their efforts on people close to Sonia, including Manmohan Singh and her close advisors. The note was written by Michel to Peter Hullet, the India head of AgustaWestland, and it talks of Sonia being the “driving force” behind the deal to buy 12 VIP helicopters.

In the note, Michel reportedly advises Hullet to ‘target’ key people to clinch the deal. This might have included Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s key political advisor. The actual names mentioned include Pranab Mukherjee, Veerappa Moily, (then National Security Advisor) MK Narayanan and a defence ministry official Vinay Kumar. Apparently, the judgment also notes that Haschke identified all the Congress leaders by their photos. Reference of sums paid to AP appear in one note by Michel. The assumption is that AP is Ahmed Patel.

The only clearly proven fact, even according to the Italian court verdict, may be the money paid to Tyagi’s family. Deducing and finding out the other recipients, specifically if they lead to Ahmed Patel and Sonia, involves following this and other money trails left by the payments made by Haschke, Gerosa and Michel.

However, even this may not be easy, as money tends to flow through layers of front companies based abroad, and linking the initial payment to one company or individual to its ultimate beneficiary may take years, given the poor abilities of our investigators to force other countries to part with their financial secrets.

This is why targeting Sonia and Rahul prematurely is pointless at this stage.

Logically, the only way to proceed is from the bottom up, starting with the Tyagis and defence ministry officials directly involved in the deal, piling the pressure on them and then forcing them to cooperate and name more names, digging out the financial details from accounts abroad, following the money trail to the logical end, and then checking to see if it implicates a Sonia or even an Ahmed Patel.

It is a sobering thought that the money trail in the 2G scandal has repeatedly gone cold, despite reaching some accounts in Mauritius or Switzerland. It is unlikely that the AgustaWestland bribes will be that easily traceable beyond Tyagi and Co.

The only way to do the job is to target the direct recipients, force them to turn approvers in the hope of getting them to name the big names, and then going after the powerful people who may be the ultimate beneficiaries of these big bribes. It will be a long haul even if done right.

For once, let us get this right. It is worth spending serious time and effort to nail the big people behind scams instead of blowing it all up for a few days’ worth of headlines. By prematurely targeting the potential end-recipient one not only gives the game away, but also faces the mortifying prospect of having some court reject the cases for lack of sufficient evidence.

This will give the Gandhis a propaganda coup that is undeserved — exactly what happened with Bofors, where the needle of suspicion pointed even more strongly in the direction of the Gandhis through their friend Ottavio Quattrochi.

VVIP Chopper Scam: SC seeks Centre’s reply on PIL for FIR against Congress leaders including Sonia, Manmohan

The Supreme Court on Friday sought responses from the Centre and the CBI on a plea seeking registration of an FIR against some political leaders and others whose names have allegedly been referred to in an Italian court’s verdict in AgustaWestland chopper case.A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh issued notice on the PIL filed by advocate M L Sharma in which he has also sought a court-monitored probe in the case.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The PIL, which was filed last week had sought lodging of FIR against political leaders, including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose names have allegedly been referred to in the Itqalian court’s judgement.CBI had in 2013 registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs including the President and Prime Minister.The plea, which has made Ministry of Defence and CBI as parties, has sought registration the FIR against persons whose names have figured in the judgement delivered by the Italian court in Milan on April 7, 2016.It has sought a court-monitored SIT or CVC probe and has also raised legal questions including as to whether decision of the Italian court is “not enough” to prosecute.The plea said the probe began in Italy in 2011 into the allegation that AgustaWestland paid a commission of Euro 51 million (over Rs 350 crore) to Switzerland-based consultant Guido Ralph Haschke to facilitate the deal.”The scope of the Italian probe will end at the point where the alleged commission money reaches India. The probe will not go into who was paid the money in the Indian establishment or how the funds were worked around within the power circles of New Delhi,” it said.”That action has been taken in Italy on the VVIP helicopter scam. The CEO of the company has been arrested. But no action has been taken here. The country which would have benefited from the deal has taken action while the country which lost money has not done anything,” it said, adding that the petitioner is apprehending that the case may meet the fate of Bofors scandal.

Congress rakes up GSPC scam, BJP fields Gujarat minister

After weathering stormy debate on AgustaWestland on Wednesday, Congress and opposition parties stepped up the heat on BJP demanding discussion on alleged Gujarat State Power Corporation (GSPC)-KG Basin scam.After a CAG report questioned the investment of Rs 19,716 crore made by GSPC for oil and gas exploration in Krishna Godavari (KG) basin, Congress has used it to target Modi who was chief minister of Gujarat when the PSU decided to go for the project.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They (government) had said they have no objection to having a discussion on this… I would request the chair at the earliest that we should discuss it,” Leader of Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad said.When minister of state for parliamentary affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi rose to say that the CAG report had to be examined by the Public Accounts Committee of the state assembly first and should not be discussed in the house, the opposition protested vehemently, claiming that KG Basin is a national asset and previous NDA government under Vajpayee was involved in the decision.The Congress relented when Naqvi said the notice is with chairman of the house Hamid Ansari and whatever he decides will be abided by the government.To smother the approaching storm, BJP outside the parliament brought Gujarat energy minister Saurabh Patel asserted Congress allegations were nothing but an effort to deflect attention from AgustaWestland scam.Patel said GSPC had taken all permissions, including expenditure, from a management committee headed by a joint secretary in ministry of petroleum and natural during the Congress led UPA rule.Patel insisted that the public sector undertaking will recover its investment but will take time as such projects have long gestation period.Launching a counter attack on the then Congress-led UPA government, Patel, considered to be a close aide of Modi, said if gas was not in place, then why it gave the permission for exploration and subsequent expenditure.Congress has targeted Modi by bringing out the names of two companies – Tough Drilling and Geo Global – who without having any experience in oil and gas exploration were given the contract by the GSPC.However, Patel said that there was not a single thing that GSPC did which the Centre had not approved of.”To blame the Prime Minister now is completely wrong,” said told adding that everything that the PSU decided would go to a management committee here for approval and the then Director General of Hydrocarbons was also its member.

Amid Augusta heat, Congress show of strength today

The main Opposition Congress is organising a show of strength, christened ‘Loktantra Rally’ on Friday. Led by party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the party MPs and workers will attempt to ‘gherao’ the Parliament House in protest against toppling of Congress governments and framing of its leaders in corruption cases. The rally will also highlight the Centre’s poor response to the drought that has affected half of the country’s population.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The party has asked all MPs to be at Jantar Mantar at 9 am sharp for the protest. The party knows that the rally may be cut short due to the ongoing Lok Sabha session. The much-talked AugustaWestland chopper scam will be discussed in Lok Sabha today. The issue was debated in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said the Congress Working Committee members members, CLP leaders from the states and leaders of frontal organisations would take part in the “gherao”. Every state unit has been asked to send a small contingent for the programme. The task of mobilising large number of party workers to the show has been assigned to the Congress leaders of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.The party leaders say, Friday “gherao” will be turned into a public movement across the country to turn tables on the ruling BJP on the Agusta issue to show how a defamatory campaign has been built to cover up failure s of government. Surjewala said the protest against the Modi government was not only for the Agusta scam but also against its attempts to topple the Congress governments, first in Arunachal Pradesh and then in Goa, and on the issues of growing unemployment, escalating prices of essential commodities, severe drought affecting over 40 crore people, rise in farmer suicides and the government’s “deliberate lies” on issues of national importance.While nominated MP Subramanyam Swamy was star speaker on behalf of the BJP in Rajya Sabha, in Lok Sabha, Mumbai’s BJP MP Kirit Somaiya is being fielded for a big fight. Over past few days, he has tried to expose Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s top aide Kanishka Singh.Somaiya tried to corner Kanishka on the basis of the business of his maternal uncle’s real estate firm Emaar-MGF that built CWG village on the bank of the Yamuna here, while the Congress dismissed the charge, pointing out that Rahul’s aide has nothing to do with the firm. Somaiya tried to point out one of the accused in the AgustaWestland chopper scam was director of the firm.Somaiya will seek explanation from Rahul on his aide Kanishka having links with a middleman who paid bribes to secure order from the IAF on behalf of AgustaWestland for supply of 12 choppers for the VVIPs. Somaiya said Guido Haschke one of three middlemen was serving as a Director in 2009 for real estate developer Emaar-MGF, promoted by Kanishka Singh’s family and a year later Agusta bagged the helicopter deal in 2010.

VVIP chopper scam: ED questions ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi

After CBI quizzed him for three days, former Air Force chief S P Tyagi was subjected on Thursday to a marathon 10-hour questioning by the ED in connection with the controversial Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal.Tyagi arrived at the zonal office of the agency here just before 11 AM and left around 9:30 PM. He did not talk to the waiting media outside. Agency sources said he was questioned about his role in the deal and his statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The retired Air Chief Marshal was questioned in the same case by CBI for the last three days but this is for the first time he was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate.”He was questioned on various aspects of the probe and was confronted with the evidences and statements given by other accused,” ED sources said. He may be summoned again, they added.Agency sources had earlier indicated that Tyagi’s questioning was necessary in the light of a recent judgement of a Milan (Italy) court which had sentenced Italian defence and aerospace majorFinmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and the former CEO of the firm Bruno Spagnolini on corruption charges in the sale of a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters to India for VVIP purposes. Tyagi’s name cropped at various points in the said judgement.The allegation against the former Air chief is that he allegedly reduced the height of the VVIP helicopters so that AgustaWestland could be included in the bids. He took over as the Indian Air Force chief on December 31, 2005 and retired from service in 2007.ED had registered a PMLA case in this regard in 2014 and named 21 people including Tyagi in its money laundering FIR. It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan and had also filed a charge sheet last year.ED had earlier submitted that Khaitan was on the board of Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix which was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in the chopper deal. Tyagi, however, has denied any wrongdoing on his part.On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force (IAF) over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.The central agency has also issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to ten countries in this case. ED is excpected to question Tyagi’s cousin Sanjiv Tyagi alias Juli tomorrow.

AgustaWestland scam: ED questions ex-IAF chief Tyagi

New Delhi: Former IAF chief SP Tyagi was on Thursday questioned by the ED in connection with the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal after being quizzed for days by the CBI in the case.

Tyagi arrived at the zonal office of the agency here just before 11 am and agency sources said he will be questioned and his statement recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ex-IAF chief was questioned in the same case by CBI for the last three days.This is the first time that the
ex-Chief of Staff of the Indian Air Force has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate.

Agency sources had earlier indicated that Tyagi’s questioning was necessary in the light of a recent judgement of a Milan (Italy) court which had sentenced Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica‘s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and the former CEO of the firm Bruno Spagnolini on corruption charges in the sale of a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters to India for VVIP purposes.

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi is one of the accused in the bribery case. PTIFormer IAF chief SP Tyagi is one of the accused in the bribery case. PTI

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi is one of the accused in the bribery case. PTI

Tyagi’s name cropped at various points in the said judgement.

The allegation against the former Air chief is that he allegedly reduced the height of the VVIP helicopters so that AgustaWestland could be included in the bids.

He took over as the Indian Air Force chief on December 31, 2005 and retired from service in 2007.

ED had registered a PMLA case in this regard in 2014 and named 21 people including Tyagi in its money laundering FIR.

It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan and had also filed a charge sheet last year.

ED had earlier submitted that Khaitan was on the board of Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix which was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in the chopper deal.

Tyagi, however, has denied any wrongdoing on his part.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica‘s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force (IAF) over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

The central agency has also issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to ten countries in this case.

After heated debate on VVIP Chopper scam in Parliament, PM Modi holds meeting with senior ministers

Against the backdrop of developments in the Supreme Court on the Uttarakhand issue and the heated debate in Rajya Sabha on the AgustaWestland chopper scam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday held a meeting with senior ministers of his Cabinet on Wednesday evening.Soon after the meeting of the Union Cabinet, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad stayed back to have a meeting with the PM.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Singh and Naidu left soon after, Parrikar and Prasad remained closetted with the Prime Minister in the conference room of Parliament Library Building. In fact, Parrikar was talking to reporters after the Cabinet meeting when he was asked to rush back to the Cabinet venue.The Supreme Court this morning accepted the plea of the Centre that two more days be given to it to respond to its suggestion about the feasibility of holding a floor test in Uttarakhand Assembly under its supervision.In the Rajya Sabha, Parrikar targeted the previous UPA government over the controversial AgustaWestland deal, saying the ongoing probe will focus on those named in the Italian Court judgement.

VVIP Chopper scam: Kirit Somaiya levels fresh charges, says Rahul Gandhi, Vadra have started new scheme

Continuing his tirade against Rahul Gandhi with regard to the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Kirit Somaiya on Wednesday said the Congress vice-president and his brother-in-law Robert Vadra have started a new scheme, which takes a kick-back with the DLF.”What was your intention behind purchasing the shops? Have you decided to leave politics and start a grocery shop? Rahul Gandhi and his brother- in- law Robert Vadra have started a new scheme, which takes a kick-back with the DLF,” Somaiya told ANI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Rahul Gandhi has admitted that he has bought shops. I would like him to disclose that at what price he bought them and to whom he had given them on lease. He bought them and again sold them to the MGF,” he added.Countering Somaiya’s allegations in the AgustaWestland deal, the Congress vice-president earlier today said that he did purchase shops from a mall owned by MGF in the capital, adding he has mentioned the same in his affidavit.Gandhi had yesterday dared the ruling BJP at the Centre and said that he was happy to be targeted. Somaiya had earlier said that Gandhi owes an explanation in the AgustaWestland scam.Somaiya has alleged that the Congress vice-president and Kanishk Singh were connected to Guido Haschke, one of the middlemen in the AgustaWestland deal.Haschke, Somaiya has alleged, was also involved in the 2010 CWG scam.Kanishk, however, yesterday rubbished Somaiya’s allegations accusing him of having a stake in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam as malafide and baseless.Kanishka demanded that Somaiya should provide proof at the earliest which would facilitate a proper investigation and prosecution of the guilty.He also said it is up to the agencies to investigate whether officials of AgustaWestland were involved with Emaar-MGF or not.

AgustaWestland: Christian Michel arms govt by confirming ‘Signora Sonia’ note

When Rahul Gandhi made a one-line statement claiming, “I am always being targeted, happy to be targeted”, without stopping or slowing his hurried walk inside Parliament, he would not have anticipated that only hours later Rosemary Patrizi Dos Anjos, the lawyer of Christian Michel, the middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam — now a wanted criminal in India — would appear live on Times Now. Or that she would accept that her client had written a note naming Sonia Gandhi and describing her as ‘driving force’ behind the deal.

This has hit Congress where it could hurt it most.

Michel’s lawyer’s admission came at a time when the party is doing everything in its command to deflect the heat from its Sonia Gandhi‘s alleged involvement in the deal. This is additional ammunition for Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar when he rises to make a statement on the AgustaWestland scam on Wednesday in the Rajya Sabha.

The problem for the Congress and its first family is that the continuing revelations have cast a shadow on Rahul as well. BJP MP Kirit Somaiya has linked the family of Rahul’s aide Kanishka Singh with the other middleman Guido Ralph Haschke. Singh has denied the charge but Somaiya has made some fresh charges against Rahul Gandhi — of buying two shops in MGF Metropolitan Mall, Saket. And although Rahul owning a shop in that mall, or leasing it to MGF and finally selling it to MGF for profit does not have any direct connection with Choppergate per se, it does suggest that Haschke had his ways around the corridors of power in Delhi.

Somaiya tweeted:

MGF is part of Emaar MGF and in September 2009, the company appointed Haschke and Gautam Khaitan as directors on its board. The same company had built the Commonwealth Games villages in New Delhi and hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons with the Union Urban Development Ministry and the Delhi Development Authority going out of the way to sweeten the deal for Emaar MGF.

This coupled with the revelations that the then defence minister AK Antony approved the blacklisting of AgustaWestland only on 12 May, 2014 — after it had become certain that the Congress was about to lose power at the Centre with the last phase of poling done and exit polls indicating that the Narendra Modi-led BJP was way ahead — will add to the Congress’ discomfort. The order banning procurement was finally issued on 3 July, 2014 by then defence minister Arun Jaitley.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The other question that the Congress will have to answer is why the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) virtually slept on the files for over one year, from March 2013 when the FIR was registered till May 2014 — the time the UPA government was ousted.

The Congress had so far been claiming that the Manmohan Singh government had blacklisted AgustaWestland, ordered a CBI, ED inquiry and it is the Modi government that should be blamed for inaction on the issue. Unfortunately for the Congress, after each of their claims, evidence has emerged that the party was consciously indulging in speaking half-truths or plain lies.

Patrizi’s stating, “I know about that note” in response to a query about the veracity of the note sent by Michel to Peter Hullet, who then helmed India operations of AgustaWestland, will have a damning effect on the Congress party because her statement negates the Congress’ claims about the authenticity of the unsigned note.

When Parrikar speaks in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress benches may have to deal with some moments of deep discomfort.

The former prime minister and former defence minister should be present in the House. However, it remains to be seen whether the Congress will allow Parrikar to make his full statement, also how Singh and Antony, if at all, counter him.

Three days ago, Parrikar on his part had made clear what he intends to do in Parliament.

“I will place the detailed chronology, giving facts about the chopper deal before Parliament on Wednesday. I will place the detailed chronology, giving how and when necessary clauses or provisions were relaxed to suit the companies. Those who received kickbacks will not leave behind the proof for us to prosecute them, but we will have to prove it (that kickbacks were received).Why no action was taken against the company till 2014? Why was the company not blacklisted by then UPA government? I challenge the Congress to show the UPA government’s order blacklisting the AgustaWestland company. Let them reply first why it was not banned.”

As for middleman Michel offer’s to turn approver (made by his lawyer to Times Now on Tuesday night and denied later by Michel a little while later) with certain conditions attached that he would not be arrested, treated wrongly and so on, the government has already clarified that there would be no deal with him.

“It is well known that any understanding/agreement with an accused outside the frame of law is a criminal act in itself. James Christian Michael is a criminal wanted by the Indian law enforcement agencies. We are pursuing all legal means to arrest him and have him extradited to India. Mr Michel should submit himself to the Indian legal system rather than make elliptical references to offers that are suspect in intent and reality. We are determined that the law must take its course against Mr Michel and his associates in this matter,” the government said.

Tyagi had met Finmeccanica COO while in office as IAF chief

Former Indian Air Force marshal SP Tyagi had allegedly met the chief operating officer (COO) of Italian aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica while in office. The meeting with the official of Finmeccanica, accused in the Rs 3,726-crore VVIP chopper scam, had taken place in 2005, almost three months after he was selected as the IAF chief.The revelation came from the CBI officials who interrogated Tyagi for the second consecutive day. Agency officials also added that Tyagi allegedly had financial interests in at least four companies based out of India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBI officials told dna that the alleged meeting had taken place on February 15, 2005 in India, but did not mention the venue. Sources in CBI, however, said that investigators have retrieved records which indicate that the meeting had taken place between Tyagi and Finmeccanica COO, Georgio Zapa.The CBI claims that it was when he was IAF chief that Tyagi allegedly tailored chopper specifications to favour AgustaWestland, one of the four global vendors in talks with the defence ministry.Sources said that an elaborate record of individuals the government officials meet during their office time is usually maintained and it was possible that CBI investigators accessed the same. The agency is also looking at the travels made by Tyagi post his retirement in 2007. Tyagi is alleged to have met AgustaWestland middlemen seven times – from 2004 to 2007 – and travelled to Italy thrice after his retirement.It had also come to fore that the former AFM was linked to three companies which have been identified with their initials: ‘Vanshi’, ‘Anuras’ and ‘Shavan’. On Tuesday, sources told dna that Tyagi might have other shares in some other companies out of which one Noida-based company, named Meghanshu, has been identified. Tyagi and his wife are the owners of the companies. The investigating agency has written to the Financial Intelligence Unit “to gather more details about the financial transactions of these companies in India and abroad”.Tyagi, along with another accused in the massive scam, Gautam Khaitan, are to be questioned by the probe agency on Wednesday while the former AFM’s cousins, also known as Tyagi brothers – Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep, have been called later this week. The three are accused of lobbying on behalf of AgustaWestland.CBI sources said that it was in 2004, when Tyagi was vice-chief, that Finmeccanica approached him for the first time. Later, when it was announced that Tyagi was next in line for chief, Agusta middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa held some more meetings with him. The middlemen again met him at an air show in Bengaluru, where AgustaWestland had put up a stall.AFM Tyagi is accused of influencing IAF’s decision to tailor chopper specification to suit helicopters put for bidding by AgustaWestland. The service ceiling (height of flying capacity) was brought down from 6,000 metres to 4500, even after reluctance by the ministry of defence.CBI documents revealed that in 2004, the Tyagi brothers, who made acquaintances with Guido Hasheesh and Carlo Gerosa, signed a consultancy contract with Gordian Services Sarl in Tunisia. After May 2004, 1,26,000 euros and 2 lakh euros after February 2005, camouflaged as consultancy fee, were paid to Tyagi brothers and some of the money was allegedly paid off to Tyagi himself.

VVIP chopper scam: Sonia Gandhi meets Congress leaders

With AgustaWestland chopper issue coming up for debate in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Congress President Sonia Gandhi held a strategy meeting with senior leaders this evening.The consultations were significant in view of the fact that BJP member Subramanian Swamy had dragged her name in the issue in the Upper House last week amid sharp protests from Congress members. A section of party leaders have been emphasising on a foolproof strategy so as to send home the message that the party was all for debating the issue but at the same time would not countenance muck-raking at the leadership.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the AICC briefing, party spokesman Jyotiraditya Scindia said that the party was all for debate on the issue in both Houses of Parliament to clear the air on the matter. In the Lok Sabha too, Congress has given notices for a short duration discussion on the issue as also for a calling attention notice. Congress’ strategy of attacking Modi government over the Italian marines issue during the debate came to the fore with the party today coming down heavily on the Centre in the matter. AICC alleged that Modi government “entered into a conspiracy” to “falsely accuse” the party leadership in AgustaWestland chopper case and made a “weak defence” in the Italian marines case as “quid pro quo”. “Recent order of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague confirms the claim that Modi government has entered into a conspiracy to falsely accuse Congress leadership in AugustaWestland case in return for a weak defence in Italian marines case,” Scindia told reporters.In the past one week, the party has raised several questions for the Prime Minister in the matter and declared that it has nothing to hide. Former Defence Minister A K Antony, who was in poll-bound Kerala, returned here today to participate in the discussion.Besides Antony, Congress’ Deputy leader Anand Sharma and party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi, who is a senior advocate, are expected to participate.

SP Tyagi couldn’t have acted alone in VVIP chopper scam: VK Singh

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi, accused of helping AgustaWestland swing a Rs 3,600 crore deal for a dozen VVIP choppers by changing specifications, could not have acted alone and many people must have been involved in the scam, Union Minister VK Singh said on Tuesday.Singh, a former Army chief, said a curtain should not be put on the scandal by targeting only Tyagi. The ongoing probe, he said, will bring out facts in the case. “It is a long process. Only one man cannot be there. If the qualitative requirement is changed, somebody is involved in it or is it only Tyagi. It’s a big line. Let’s not try to put a curtain and say only SP Tyagi is involved. There are many more people,” Singh said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asked about credibility of allegations against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and some other party leaders in the alleged scam, Singh said “There is enquiry that has to be done. Let that enquiry be completed. We will know the facts.” The Minister said Congress leaders who are allegedly involved in the scam should do some “introspection” and that it will be good for the country if they came forward with the “truth”. The Congress has called the charges against its leaders “false and baseless”.Asked about Rahul Gandhi’s comment that he was happy to be targeted in the wake of BJP’s attempts to drag him into CWG and the VVIP chopper scam, Singh said the Congress vice president was playing the “victim” card. “A lot of people want to play victim. If he wants to play that he is most welcome,” he said. BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had recently sent a letter to ED and CBI requesting them to check Gandhi’s links with a real estate developer allegedly involved in the CWG scam and also the alleged connections of his political aide with a middleman in the AgustaWestland deal. Somaiya had said that Guido Haschke, an alleged middleman in the chopper deal is common in both the scams and that he is linked to Christian Michel, an accused in the VVIP chopper scam. “Kirit Somaiya is one of those who do a lot of research and I am quite sure there must be some fact in that (the allegations),” Singh said.

AgustaWestland scam: SP Tyagi couldn’t have acted alone, says VK Singh

New Delhi: Former IAF chief SP Tyagi, accused of helping AgustaWestland swing a Rs 3,600 crore deal for a dozen VVIP choppers by changing specifications, could not have acted alone and many people must have been involved in the scam, Union Minister VK Singh said on Tuesday.

SP Tyagi. File photo. PTI

SP Tyagi. File photo. PTI

Singh, a former Army chief, said a curtain should not be put on the scandal by targeting only Tyagi. The ongoing probe, he said, will bring out facts in the case.

“It is a long process. Only one man cannot be there. If the qualitative requirement is changed, somebody is involved in it or is it only Tyagi. It’s a big line. Let’s not try to put a curtain and say only SP Tyagi is involved. There are many more people,” Singh said.

Asked about credibility of allegations against Congress President Sonia Gandhi and some other party leaders in the alleged scam, Singh said “There is enquiry that has to be done. Let that enquiry be completed. We will know the facts.”

The Minister said Congress leaders who are allegedly involved in the scam should do some “introspection” and that it will be good for the country if they came forward with the “truth”. The Congress has called the charges against its leaders “false and baseless”.

Asked about Rahul Gandhi‘s comment that he was happy to be targeted in the wake of BJP’s attempts to drag him into CWG and the VVIP chopper scam, Singh said the Congress vice-president was playing the “victim” card.

“A lot of people want to play victim. If he wants to play that he is most welcome,” he said.

BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had recently sent a letter to ED and CBI requesting them to check Gandhi’s links with a real estate developer allegedly involved in the CWG scam and also the alleged connections of his political aide with a middleman in the AgustaWestland deal.

Somaiya had said that Guido Haschke, an alleged middleman in the chopper deal is common in both the scams and that he is linked to Christian Michel, an accused in the VVIP chopper scam.

“Kirit Somaiya is one of those who do a lot of research and I am quite sure there must be some fact in that (the allegations),” Singh said.

© 2018 Yuva Sai Sagar. Theme by Anders Norén.