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VVIP chopper scam: HC notice to ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi on CBI plea against his bail

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court today sought the response of ex-IAF chief S P Tyagi, who is on bail after being arrested in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, on CBI’s plea challenging his bail claiming its probe would be “hampered” if he remains out.Justice Vipin Sanghi issued notice to Tyagi, who was arrested on December 9 and granted bail on December 26, listed the matter for hearing on January 3 after CBI said the bail pleas of other accused in the case are likely to be heard by the trial court on January 4.Justice Sanghi said the endeavour of the court would be to dispose of the matter on January 3 after hearing all the parties.CBI argued before the high court that each day Tyagi remained out on bail would lead to its line of investigation being “exposed” and “hampered” and the evidence could also be destroyed.The agency also said its probe was “multi-layered” as it was spread across several countries since various companies were allegedly used to “camouflage the bribe money”.The contention came in response to the high court’s query as to why should the 72-year old former Chief of Air Staff be retained in judicial custody at this stage when he was in the custody of the agency for a week prior to getting bail.CBI admitted before the high court that though the FIR was registered in 2013, “real core investigation started only a few months back” and hence it did not want Tyagi to be out on bail till the charge sheet is filed.It contended that if Tyagi remained out on bail, he could “alert other potential accused”.A special court had on December 26 this year granted bail to Tyagi, saying CBI has failed to state the alleged bribe amount and when it was paid.Tyagi, who was interrogated by CBI in its custody for seven days, was asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs two lakh and a surety of like amount as pre-requisites for his release on bail.The trial court had asked Tyagi not to leave the National Capital Region without its permission and ordered him not to tamper with evidence or try to influence witnesses.It had noted that Tyagi had joined investigation as and when CBI called him and it was not the case that he either tampered with evidence after registration of the FIR or influenced any witness in the case.While granting the relief, the trial court also took note of Tyagi’s advancing age and his health conditions and said no purpose would be served by keeping him behind bars.Tyagi, who retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by CBI in connection with the case which relates to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based AgustaWestland during the UPA-2 regime.The court had on December 17 sent all the three accused to judicial custody till December 30.

AgustaWestland case: Delhi High Court issues notice to SP Tyagi against bail given to him

The Delhi High Court on Friday, on the Central Bureau Investigation’s (CBI) plea, issued a notice to ex-Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi against the bail given to him on 26 December. Tyagi was granted bail by a special court in Delhi which said that the CBI had failed to state the alleged bribe amount and when it was paid. The Delhi High Court on Friday sought the response of ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi on CBI’s plea challenging his bail claiming its probe would be “hampered” if he remains out. Justice Vipin Sanghi issued notice to Tyagi and listed the matter for hearing on 3 January.

Tyagi, who retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were arrested on 9 December by the CBI in connection with a case which relates to the procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from the UK-based firm Finmeccanica, during the UPA-2 regime. The Patiala House Court on Friday extended the judicial custody of SP Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan for 14 days.The court will decide the bail pleas of Sanjeev Tyagi and Khaitan on 4 January.

Tyagi, 72, who was interrogated by the CBI in its custody for seven days, had been asked by special CBI judge Arvind Kumar to furnish a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and one surety of like amount as pre-requisites for his release on bail.

The court had asked Tyagi not to leave the National Capital Region (NCR) without its permission and ordered him not to tamper with the evidence or try to influence the witnesses.

“CBI failed to state as to how much cash was paid to the accused and when it was paid. Admittedly, the CBI has seized the documents regarding properties in 2013 and more than three years and nine months have passed but could not conduct probe in this regard. Accused was arrested after about three years and nine months, LOC was withdrawn by CBI, his accounts were de-frozed after the agency gave ‘no objection’ and accused was allowed to travel abroad,” the court, in its 26 December order, had said.

File photo of SP Tyagi. PTI

File photo of SP Tyagi. PTI

It had noted that Tyagi had joined the investigation as and when CBI called him and it was not the case that he either tampered with evidence after registration of the FIR or influenced witnesses in the case.

“CBI’s apprehension that the accused may tamper with the evidence is without any basis… Accused has been a senior government servant. The correctness or otherwise of the allegation as to whether the accused has taken any kickbacks and in what manner he was connected with the same, can only be looked into during the course of the trial,” it had said.

While granting the relief, the court had taken note of Tyagi’s advancing age and his health conditions and had said no purpose would be served by keeping him behind the bars.

During the hearing, Tyagi’s advocate Manger Guruswamy had said that her client “could not be deprived of freedom if the investigation is taking time to complete”.

She had also claimed that in the last four years after registration of the FIR, the CBI has never been able to confront Tyagi with any incriminating evidence till date.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, had opposed the bail pleas of the accused, saying if set free, they might influence witnesses and hamper the “multi-layered probe by various agencies in more than one jurisdictions involving several countries”.

“We have evidence where the meetings unofficially took place for the purpose of crime. At this stage, please do not entertain their bail pleas. Let the probe be completed,” he had said, seeking dismissal of the bail pleas of all the three accused and adding the matter has “tarnished country’s name”.

On the court’s query whether the CBI had any material regarding SP Tyagi receiving money, the agency replied the former IAF chief had purchased several properties for which the sources of income were not disclosed by him and alleged that he had abused his official position.

Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, counsel for Khaitan, had also countered CBI’s argument, claiming that the agency was trying to sensationalise the matter and there was no allegation that his client had not joined the probe or tried to influence it.

Sanjeev Tyagi’s counsel Manav Gupta had also opposed CBI’s contention saying there was no reason to claim that if granted the relief, his client would hamper the probe.

The accused had sought bail on the grounds that the evidence was documentary in nature and had already been seized by CBI and they have cooperated with the probe agency.

The court had on 17 December sent all the three accused to judicial custody till 30 December.

The CBI had said it was a “very serious” and “a very high-profile” case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as the “interest of the nation was compromised”.

Tyagi’s counsel had earlier 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.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:47 IST

AgustaWestland scam: SP Tyagi gets bail; court order on 2 other accused due on 4 Jan

The Patiala House Court on Monday granted bail to former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi, accused of receiving kickbacks in AgustaWestland helicopter deal. Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar granted the relief to SP Tyagi on a personal bond of Rs two lakh and one surety of like amount.

The court, however, imposed certain conditions on the accused and asked him not to try to influence the witnesses and hamper the probe. The bail applications of other two accused — Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan — are pending before the court which said it will decide both the pleas on 4 January. During the hearing of the bail plea, S P Tyagi’s advocate Maneka Guruswamy had said that her client “could not be deprived of freedom if the investigation is taking time to complete”.

In a sudden and first of its kind action, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had arrested SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev, and a lawyer on 9 December in the sensational Rs 450 crore bribery case in the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters from UK-based AgustaWestland during the UPA-II government.

Seventy-one-year-old SP Tyagi, 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, PTI had reported.

These were 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 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.

On 23 December special CBI judge Arvind Kumar also reserved its order on the bail applications of SP Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan and posted the matter for 26 December for pronouncing the order.

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

During proceedings, Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, had opposed the bail pleas of the accused, saying if set free, they might influence witnesses and hamper the “multi-layered probe by various agencies in more than one jurisdictions involving several countries”.

“The persons are of high ranking… The investigation is going on and we are getting support from other countries. If they get bail, they may influence witnesses, destroy evidences and hamper the ongoing probe which is at a very crucial stage.

“We have evidences where the meetings unofficially took place for the purpose of crime. At this stage, please do not entertain their bail pleas. Let the probe be completed,” he said, seeking dismissal of the bail pleas of all three accused and adding that the matter has “tarnished country’s name.”

However, the CBI also told the court that “it is not our argument that the accused may flee from justice.”

On the court’s query whether the CBI had any material regarding S P Tyagi receiving money, the agency said the former IAF chief had purchased several properties for which the sources of income were not disclosed by him and alleged that he had abused his official position.

Opposing CBI’s contention, S P Tyagi’s advocate Maneka Guruswamy said his client “could not be deprived from freedom if the investigation is taking time to complete”.

She claimed before the court that in the last four years since the FIR was registered, the CBI has never been able to confront Tyagi with any incriminating evidence till date.

“The CBI has not demonstrated anything more than a statement that my client recieved some cash. He is already retired and not going to influence the probe and there is no evidence to suggest that he tried to do so in the past,” the counsel said.

Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, appearing for Khaitan, also countered CBI’s argument, claiming that the agency was trying to sensitise the matter and there was no allegation that his client had not joined the probe or tried to influence it.

Dubey had told the court that “if they had to hamper probe, they would have done it in the past three years.”

Sanjeev Tyagi’s counsel Manav Gupta also opposed CBI’s contention saying there was no reason to claim that if granted the relief, his client would hamper the probe.

The accused persons have sought bail on the ground that the evidence was documentary in nature and has already been seized by CBI and they have cooperated with the probe agency.

The court had on 17 December sent all the three accused to the judicial custody till 30 December.

The accused have alleged that the “CBI was trying to extract the confession using force”. The defence counsel had also claimed that there was no apprehension of them fleeing from justice or tampering with evidence.

The CBI had said it was a “very serious” and “a very high-profile” case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as the “interest of the nation was compromised”. It had submitted that “one part of the crime was committed in India while various other angles are in foreign land.”

Tyagi’s counsel had earlier 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.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 12:26 IST

Ex-IAF chief Tyagi sent to judicial custody

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Submitting that the investigation was at a crucial stage and more than two lakh records needed to be perused, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sought time till Friday to present his arguments opposing former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi’s bail. Mehta further added that from what he had already read, a serious case was emerging in the pre-chargesheet stage.The former ACM, his cousin Sanjeev aka Julie, and Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan, who were arrested in connection with the AgustaWestland chopper scam, were remanded to judicial custody till December 30 on Saturday.However, despite the CBI’s reluctance to continue the trial, special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar at the Patiala House court allowed the defence counsels to present their arguments for bail. Over the course of the afternoon, the defence team made its arguments in front of a full court.Right off the bat, Menaka Guruswamy, representing the former air chief, submitted that given the chargesheet was supposed to be filed sometime this year, the CBI was inconsistent in its statements, and her client was languishing in jail over an unwarranted arrest.Guruswamy stressed that the charges were economic in nature, the documents had already been investigated by the CBI. She claimed that the only charge against her client was vague, and that the CBI had based their allegations on the judgment from an Italian court of appeals. Incidentally, the Italian Supreme Court accepted the plea and ordered a re-trial of Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, former CEOs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland, who were convicted for bribing Indian government officials for a 560 million Euro deal involving the sale of 12 helicopters.Pleading for release, Guruswamy informed the court that, “All evidence in the nature of bank and account statements which are documentary, have been seized by the CBI. My client’s bank accounts have been frozen by the CBI. He has never evaded summons of the CBI, nor has the agency alleged non-cooperation.” Alleging that there is no more evidence to be given by SP Tyagi, she concluded her submission by saying “Please let me go home.”Tyagi’s counsel also acknowledged the veterans who had come to support Tyagi, Guruswamy said “Colleagues have come for each of the hearings and they have also signed a petition expressing their anguish and demanded his (SP Tyagi’s) release.”PK Dubey, representing Khaitan, similarly sought for compassion for his client.In his defence, Manav Gupta, Julie Tyagi’s lawyer, attempted to prove that CBI’s claim stating that the money his client got was the only consultancy fee he had ever received was wrong. “I will prove that there are at least 16 other clients over the years who have paid me more money than the Italian national as consultancy fees,” Gupta submitted for Julie.Despite what can only be perceived as stalling tactics by the CBI, support for ACM Tyagi has increased. An online petition, that includes an open letter to the prime minister and also demanding Tyagi’s release, has already garnered more than 1500 signatories in 24 hours. Many among the veteran community believe that Tyagi is a fall guy, a scape goat, and also perhaps a political diversion for reasons best known to the government. “The current procedures are so complicated and cumbersome that it is all but impossible for ACM Tyagi to have influenced any kind of deal,” a veteran said. “Deals of these kinds are hardly ever done by sitting high-level officers and it is often carried out by the bureaucracy,” he added.

AgustaWestland scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi seeks bail from special CBI court

New Delhi:  Former IAF chief SP Tyagi  on Wednesday sought bail from a special court on the ground that there was no apprehension of him fleeing from justice as all evidences in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case were documentary in nature and have already been seized by the CBI.

“Please let me (Tyagi) go home,” Tyagi’s counsel urged before the Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar who put up the matter for further hearing on 23 December.

The court heard the arguments from the counsel of Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, all three accused in the case, and adjourned the matter after the probe agency said it needed time to argue on the bail pleas.

While seeking relief, Tyagi’s advocate Maneka Guruswamy said “my client cannot languish in jail for an indefinite period for no reason. He has voluntarily cooperated to the best of his abilities. My client has appeared on every date (when he was) summoned by CBI and even without the summons.

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi. PTI

All evidences are documentary in nature and already in the custody of CBI.”

She also told the court that Italy’s top court has ordered retrial of ex-Finmeccanica executives in the chopper scam case which makes CBI’s stand weak in the current case.

“Even his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and her mother were called by the probe agency and interrogated even before his arrest,” the counsel said.

Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, appearing for Khaitan, also sought the relief claiming that the “allegations against me (Khaitan) is of money trail and that part is already being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). I cannot be put in jail twice for the same offence… They (CBI) have encroached my personal liberty for nothing.”

Sanjeev Tyagi’s counsel too sought bail, saying “if granted the relief, my client will not try to flee from the justice and tamper with the evidences.”

The court had on 17 December sent all the three accused to the judicial custody till 30 December.

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 accused have alleged that the “CBI was trying to extract the confession using force”.

The defence counsel also claimed that there was no apprehension of them fleeing from the justice or tampering with evidence.

“My client is a 72-year-old decorated war hero. He suffers from heart and eye diseases and several other ailments. He has deep roots in the society after 44 years of distinguished career,” SP Tyagi’s counsel said.

The case relates to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime.

The CBI had said it was a “very serious” and “a very high-profile” case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as the “interest of the nation was compromised”. It had submitted that “one part of the crime was committed in India while various other angles are in foreign land.”

Tyagi’s counsel had earlier 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 how several firms through which the money travelled came into existence, while Sanjeev was known to the alleged European middleman Carlo Gerosa.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:17 IST

VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi, 2 others sent to judicial custody till Dec 30

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Patiala House Court has sent ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi and two others to judicial custody till December 30 in AgustaWestland chopper case on Saturday. All three accused had filed bail applications in the Patiala House Court. The court will hear bail matter on December 21.Tyagi along with other accused in the AgustaWestland chopper case was produced before the Patiala House court as their Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody ends.Earlier, the CBI had moved court seeking a 10-day custody to interrogate Tyagi and the other accused in the case. Last Friday, the CBI had arrested Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev and lawyer Gautam Khaitan.The Rs 3600-crore deal to supply 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland came under the scanner after Italian authorities claimed that the company paid bribes. Tyagi has been accused of influencing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland during his tenure as the IAF chief, however, he has repeatedly denied the allegations. CBI said that they have received ‘incriminating documents’ from Italy and Mauritius against the formet IAF chiefWith agency inputs.

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.

VVIP chopper scam: CBI yet to get full info on money trail from 8 countries contacted

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has not received complete responses in any of the Letter Rogatories (LR’s) it sent to eight countries to seek information on money trail related to the infamous AgustaWestland scam.According to official sources, the probe agency has sent eight LRs, which are basically judicial requests, since 2013 and has received “partial information” from six countries. Two of the eight countries have not even sent partial information even after the probe agency registered an official FIR on March, 2013.According to CBI officials, the probe agency during its investigation, that will enter its fourth year in March next year, sent LRs to Italy, Tunisia, UAE, Singapore, Mauritius, British Virgin Island, UAE and Switzerland. Excluding Singapore and UAE, six countries have sent a “partial execution report” which means that if the probe agency had sent 10 questions seeking information related to the AgustaWestland deal, only some of the queries have received a response.Official sources told DNA on Thursday that investigators probing the Rs 3,726 crore chopper scam have sent multiple reminders to the authorities in the eight countries requesting them to send out information about the scam. The latest reminder was sent to Mauritius which sent a response in November this year however the response too was a partial execution report.”Its a massive investigation and a major part of the probe involves accessing documents and data lying in various countries. When a probe such as AgustaWestland spreads to multiple countries, coordinating with authorities of those countries can be time consuming,” a senior CBI official told DNA, adding that authorities abroad have been cooperating with the probe agency so far.The CBI made its first arrests in the case on December 9 when it took into custody former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and advocate Gautam Khaitan in the case related to procurement of 12 AW VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime.According to the FIR, the CBI contended that in 2005, the former air chief abused his official position to change the consistent stand of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on the service ceiling of the VVIP choppers from 6000 metres to 4500 metres.On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks.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. Companies including Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius have also been named in the 2013 FIR by the CBI.The accused were first sent to CBI custody twice by a Delhi court. The CBI in its argument seeking custody claimed that crucial information was collected from three countries — Italy, Switzerland and Mauritius — via LRs and the accused were required to be confronted with it to unearth the larger conspiracy in the chopper deal case. Interestingly, authorities in Italy too has sent partial execution report, sources said.

Congress adopting ‘spit and run’ tactic to divert attention from real issues in Parliament: Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Blaming the opposition for disruptions in Parliament, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday that the Congress was adopting “spit and run” tactic to divert attention from the real issues. “Everybody is sad. The way Parliament is not being allowed to function, every countrymen is sad. We are also sad. But what to do if some people deliberately and continuously not allowing Parliament to function. It is a known fact who is rushing to the Well of the House,” Naidu told reporters outside Parliament.He was asked to comment on BJP veteran LK Advani’s comment in the Lok Sabha, “I feel like resigning”, after a virtual washout of the winter session of Parliament over the demonetization issue. “Being a senior party man, Advaniji is also feeling like that,” Naidu said.On the AgustaWestland chopper scam, the Union minister said, “It is a serious issue and should be discussed in the House. Many MPs have given notices in both Houses for discussion on the issue because it is related to the nation’s security. But Congress is not ready. They are bringing new issues to divert the attention from this.” On Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s claim about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged corrupt practices, Naidu said, “If your allegations have substance, then discuss it in the House. It is a spit and run tactics. One day PM’s name, next day Kiren Rijiju.”The opposition targeted Union Minister of State for Home Affairs for his alleged involvement in a Rs 450 crore scam in a power project in Arunachal Pradesh. Accusing the opposition of indulging in “dirty political tactics”, he said, “Before this, they have made allegations against Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Now Prime Minister. These are all dirty political tactics. There is no substances in it.””From day one, we are saying let’s have debate. We also said PM will be present and intervene in the discussion and FM will offer solutions. Debate started in the Rajya Sabha. Three Congress MPs spoke, Left also participated. JD(U) also participated,” he said.”Now they are saying discuss farmers’ plight. Who stopped you from discussing on the farmers issue all these days? I wanted to ask BSP and Sharad Yadav (of JD-U) that since the last 20 days why you did not raise farmers issue. Since elections are round the corner, you remember farmers now. All countrymen are watching it and people are not taking them seriously because of their strategy is to spit and run,” he said.

Govt using AgustaWestland to ‘divert’ issue of note ban in Parliament: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the government is “running away” from discussion on demonetization in the Parliament and raking up issues like AgustaWestland to divert the issue of note ban.”They (members of Treasury benches) are bringing big big posters of AgustaWest…in the House. What is this? This is for diverting the issue of demonetization. They are trying one or other excuse for adjourning the House,” he said in Parliament premises. 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 not demonetization. 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?” he asked.On Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said,” You (government) must allow us to speak (in the House).”Gandhi had yesterday alleged that he has detailed information about “personal corruption” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which he wants to present in Lok Sabha but is not being allowed to do so by the PM.On a query whether Gandhi will put out the information in public domain as the Winter session ends tomorrow, Kharge said, “Let us see…we will make our strategy.” Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said, “We will certainly have a strategy in place for that as well (putting in public domain). Today if our voices are being stifled in Parliament, we have to look at other forums where we put our views across and we will certainly do that.” He said Gandhi is “committed to express his views as Member of Parliament and public servant and representative of people” in the House when the session is going on.Meanwhile, Kharge charged the BJP Parliamentarians for “creating ruckus” in the House, alleging “their intention is that in any circumstance, there should be no discussion on demonetizationand not let Rahul Gandhi to speak.” He said when the Treasury benches “create ruckus” in the House, it is adjourned with minutes and it indicates that the government is “running away from discussion”.”…when we agitate for hours on important issues, the House is never adjourned but when government people are creating ruckus, then in five minutes-two minutes House is adjourned. This means that government is running away from discussion and do not want discussion,” he said.Kharge said the government is ready for discussion on demonetizationunder any rule. “We asked if not rule 56 and 184, then in any rule you take up, we are ready for discussion and Opposition again and again initiated to have discussion but it is being said in House that Opposition is not ready for discussion. This is totally false.” he said. Scindia claimed that since the last five days, Treasury benches are creating ruckus in the House and getting it adjourned to avoid discussion on high value notes’ ban.”We have never seen this happening before. Generally it is Opposition that adjourns Parliament. We are seeing the Treasury benches adjourning Parliament. Its very clear that they do not want discussion where pain and suffering of people is placed on the floor of the House,” he said. He said Treasury benches themselves are violating the rule of the House by bringing placards on AgustaWestland issue.

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

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By Updated: Dec 15, 2016 17:29 IST

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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

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Parliament’s Winter session on verge of washout

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With only one day left, the Winter session of Parliament is on the verge of a washout as it failed to transact any business again on Wednesday due to the standoff between the government and Opposition over demonetization, AgustaWestland scam and some other issues.Even on the penultimate day today, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha continued to witness deadlock that began with the start of the session on November 16 over the manner in which a debate should be held on demonetization and related aspects. The Rajya Sabha saw sharp exchanges between Treasury and Opposition members as they tried to outshout each other over different issues, throwing the House into pandemonium.The Opposition, led by Congress, said demonetization along with vagaries of weather had hit the farmers and demanded farm loan waiver to give relief to them.On the other hand, BJP members shouted slogans while displaying copies of a news report which claimed that some people in the erstwhile UPA regime had allegedly received money in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal. They wanted to know who was behind the chopper scam.Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the ruling side was not allowing Parliament to function, which was “unprecedented”. “It is the ruling party which is disrupting the House… in both Houses (of Parliament), it is the ruling party which is not allowing the Parliament to function. It is for the first time in the history of independent India that the ruling party is not allowing the House to function,” he said. Azad, who had given a notice to raise the issue of distress among farmers after demonetization, was called by the Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien to speak but he could hardly make his submission as ruling party members created uproar. “I have given the floor to the Leader of the Opposition. It is the convention of the House that when Leader of the Opposition or Leader of the House wish to speak, they are heard in silence,” Kurien said but BJP members did not heed. Union ministers too interjected as Azad rose to speak with I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu wanting to know what he wanted to say and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi saying the members of the ruling side want a discussion on the corruption issue.Kurien told Naidu that Azad had given a notice to raise farmers distress and even without a notice the Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the House are allowed to speak whenever they wish to speak.To Naqvi, he said the ruling side can give a notice to raise a discussion on the issue they want, and asked Azad to make his submission.Alleging that the Centre was anti-farmer and its policies were ruining crops, Azad said farmers are dying, their vegetables rotting and crops welting and they are not sowing seeds. Farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and other states are facing grave distress and the Centre should waive off their loan, he demanded.

Opposition, BJP members face off, force Lok Sabha adjournment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lok Sabha witnessed uproar as Opposition targeted the government on the demonetization issue on Thursday even as the ruling BJP members sought to pin down the Congress over alleged bribery in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, leading to adjournment of proceedings till noon.Members from Opposition and Treasury benches resorted to high decibel sloganeering soon after the House condoled the death of two former members.A belligerent Opposition, including members from the Congress, TMC and Left parties, raised slogans demanding discussion on the demonetization issue.Seeking to counter them, members from the Treasury benches were on their feet waving copies of a newspaper on reports that some people in the erstwhile UPA regime allegedly received money in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal.With her requests asking members not to display papers in the House going unheard, a peeved Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said that such actions are very bad. Referring to the Opposition as well as the Treasury benches, she said it is not right for both sides to show the papers. “You (people) are responsible MPs… This is very bad,” Mahajan said.The Opposition members were heard shouting ‘we want discussion’ on demonetization. Amid the ruckus, one question was taken up during Question Hour.Before the proceedings began, Home Minister Rajnath Singh walked up to the Opposition benches and was seen talking to Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia.Singh also greeted TMC leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi were present in the House.Earlier, the House condoled the passing away of two former members — N Anbuchezhian and PV Rajeshwar Rao — and stood in silence for a brief while as a mark of respect for the departed. Lok Sabha has virtually seen a washout since the Winter Session began on November 16 as the gridlock between the Opposition and the government over the demonetization issue continues.

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.

Demonetization, VVIP choper scam and more: Despite PM Modi’s presence, another day wasted in Lok Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The three-week long deadlock over demonetization issue deepened with the government accusing the Opposition in Lok Sabha of making attempts to fail the “pro-poor” decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, inviting a furious response.Congress members were also angry over Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s decision to allow Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) to raise the issue of AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam, ignoring their leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s plea to have his say. Sonia Gandhi too was seen protesting against Mahajan’s decision. Kharge was heard shouting as to why the BJD member was allowed to speak as he repeatedly banged the bench.With members of Congress, TMC 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 a news channel to allege that Congress, SP and BSP leaders had joined hands to “finish off” the government’s efforts to bolster the white economy.Kumar insisted that the ruling side was ready for a discussion on demonetization but the Opposition was running away and disrupting proceedings. “It is a very sad day. The leader (Kharge) of the Opposition is challenging the Speaker. He cannot do that. It is very unfortunate. We are always ready for discussion,” Kumar said and then cited the sting to attack the Opposition. “They have become ‘note-jugaad’ (managing currency) parties. It is a conspiracy to finish off what Modi has brought for the poor,” he said.Jagdambika Pal (BJP) claimed that the Opposition would be exposed. “It is a matter of shame that the Congress which participated in freedom struggle has become a commission agents,” he said amid vociferous slogan-shouting by Opposition.Opposition members were also heard raising slogans against Union Minister Kiren Rijiju over an alleged case of corruption in an Arunachal Pradesh Hydel project.With ruckus continuing, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day. 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 UPA 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.As Congress questioned the decision to allow Mahtab to speak, the Speaker said she would not allow Kharge as long as Congress members were in the Well. Kharge was heard saying that demonetizationhas hit the poor hard but a discussion was being not allowed. Before it was adjourned for the day, Lok Sabha had witnessed another adjournment till noon when the Opposition created ruckus while training their guns on the government over the controversy involving Union Minister Kiren Rijiju and the demonetization issue. As soon as the House met for the day, Opposition members, including those from Congress, TMC and Left parties, were on their feet raising demands about certain issues, including the controversy involving Rijiju and demonetization. Some members from the Treasury benches were also on their feet waving papers but both sides were not audible amid the din. Some members from the Left parties trooped into the Well.The Opposition members were seen raising concerns about alleged misuse of office by Rijiju, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, with regard to a power project in Arunachal Pradesh. With the ruckus continuing, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan the proceedings were adjourned till noon.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party’s Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were present in the House then. Lok Sabha has been witnessing a virtual washout since the Winter Session started on November 16 with the Opposition and the government locking horns over the demonetization issue.

AgustaWestland scam: CBI seeks custody of ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi for seven more days

Probing the AgustaWestland chopper scam, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday sought extended custody of former chief of air staff Air Chief Marshal (Retd.) SP Tyagi and other accused for seven more days from the Patiala House Court in Delhi.

Former Air Force chief SP Tyagi. PTIFormer Air Force chief SP Tyagi. PTI

Former Air Force chief SP Tyagi. PTI

According to ANI, the CBI in court said that a senior official from AgustaWestland had met Tyagi at his residence, which was an abuse of his official position. It also informed the court that some material were in possession of the investigating agency from Switzerland, Italy and other countries for which more time for custodial interrogation of the accused is needed.

The defence counsel for the former Air Force chief was, however, unhappy with the CBI and said that the agency is detailing out the nature of material available with them only to help the media, the ANI said.

On Saturday, the former IAF chief said the changed specification of VVIP helicopters, especially the reduction in service ceiling, were made under the advice of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), after which the court sent him to CBI custody till 14 December in the Rs 3,767-crore AgustaWestland helicopter case.

“The PMO then advised to keep the minimum mandatory requirement of the service ceiling of the helicopters to 4,500 metres (from the earlier 6,000 metres),” Tyagi’s defence counsel N Hariharan told the court while opposing the CBI plea seeking custodial interrogration of the accused.

However, putting aside the submissions, metropolitan magistrate Sujit Saurabh allowed CBI to quiz Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie Tyagi, and Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan till 14 December even as the agency sought 10 days custody to unearth bribery charges, saying a huge amount was routed to India through various companies.

“Considering the serious nature of the allegations and gravity of the matter, I am of the considered opinion that police custody for the accused is required for fair investigation,” said the magistrate after a two-hour-long argument between counsel of the CBI and the accused.

The agency told the court that crucial information was collected from three countries — Italy, Switzerland and Mauritius — via letters rogatory and the accused are required to be confronted with it to unearth the larger conspiracy in the deal.

Telling the court that regular meetings were taking place between senior officials of AgustaWestland and SP Tyagi with the help of Sanjeev Tyagi, the CBI has alleged that a conspiracy was hatched to reduce the service ceiling of the helicopters after which AgustaWestland became eligible to supply a dozen helicopters for VVIP flying duties.

It told the court that the words “at least twin engine” were inserted in the amendment proposal in 2005 for procuring VVIP helicopters to bring AgustaWestland into the eligibility criteria, adding that the changes were made deliberately as AgustaWestland helicopters had three engines and a service ceiling of 4,500 metres.
Claiming innocence in the case, the former IAF chief’s defence counsel Hariharan apprised the court that it was a collective decision to procure VVIP helicopters.

Denying the charges, he opposed the request of custodial interrogation, saying that the probe agency had not given any specific and vital point for seeking remand. Countering the CBI allegations, Tyagi said that, as IAF chief 2004-2007, he had nothing to do with the deal and the decision was taken collectively in in consultation with then Defence Ministry, the Special Protection Group and the PMO.

The decision came during the tenure of Manmohan Singh but was axed in January 2013 when the corruption allegations surfaced.

The CBI told court that in 1999, the government decided to phase out the old helicopters as they were not fit to reach high-altitude areas, and the Defence Ministry in 2002 issued global tenders for procuring new VVIP helicopters in which 11 companies participated including AgustaWestland.

However, AgustaWestland could not qualify for the shortlisted companies as it could not meet the eligibility criteria.

“Therefore a conspiracy was hatched by the accused person to help AgustaWestland win the chopper contract by making change in the operational requirements,” contended the CBI, saying Italian nationals and middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke were in constant touch with Tyagi’s cousin to influence the bidding, and also accessed crucial information.

The middlemen told Sanjeev Tyagi that they had a good contact with Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, then CEOs of the Italy-based Finmeccanica and Britain-based AgustaWestland, which is a subsidiary of the former, and could fix the meeting with them, CBI disclosed.

All the accused, companies included, were booked for criminal conspiracy, cheating and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

With inputs from IANS

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 15:56 IST

Delhi: Law firm raid yeilds Rs 13 crore, Agusta link

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The crime branch of the Delhi Police and the Income-Tax (I-T) department have exposed a coterie of lawyers, high-profile arms dealers and middlemen after raids on the residence and offices of a city-based lawyer Rohit Tandon on Saturday night. Tandon owns the Tandon and Tandon (T&T) law firm.Raids were going on T&T offices in the Shivalik area, Lajpat Nagar and Greater Kailash-1 at the time of going to press. So far, Rs 13.65 crore, including Rs 2.6 crore in new currency, have been seized.Crime branch officials said that Tandon has links with prominent arms dealer Abhishek Verma (currently out on bail), and senior lawyer Gautam Khaitan (arrested in the AgustaWestland scam).”This raid is linked to the one on October 6. I-T officials had then recorded the statements of associates and staffers at T&T’s Greater Kailash-1 office, after which unaccounted money of Rs 125 crore were disclosed. The tax department has evidence of Tandon’s investments in properties through shell companies,” sources said.Addressing the media on Sunday, Joint Commissioner of Police (JCP), Crime Branch, Ravinder Yadav, said: “He had been on our radar since October 6.” Though the JCP claimed that Tandon had gone underground and they were tracing him, Tandon spoke to the media. “It is absolute nonsense to link me with Abhishek Verma and the AgustaWestland suspects. I have never met them. Neither they nor I even recognise each other. I am not on the run. I am not in Delhi. I am on my way back and will cooperate with the I-T department,” he said.Tandon also claimed that he did not have any clue about the money recovered during the raids.Stacks of new and old currency were found in a cupboard and a duffel bag in T&T’s Greater Kailash office. “We also found a counting machine,” Yadav said. I-T officials said that every nook and cranny of the Greater Kailash office was covered with security cameras. “When we questioned the staffers, they said Tandon had installed a software in his mobile phone and would have been watching the live feed of raids and searches,” they added.Sources said that the investigating teams are now analysing Tandon’s client list. “He claims to be a corporate lawyer, specialising in mergers and acquisitions, but no big firm has hired him. I-T officials told us that he is more of a liaison… a fixer. We have seized his office computers and laptops. Clients don’t pay in cash to prominent lawyers,” said an investigating officer.”We are probing whether the seized money was parked by businessmen and lawyers,” an officer said. Teams are also questioning other partners of T&T, all of whom claimed that they had no clue about the money found at their offices.Police sources claimed that Tandon was in touch with some high-profile defence dealers and lawyers representing defence lobbyists. Tandon set up T&T in February 2014. He had ambitious plans to set up offices in Dubai and Hong Kong as well. He was, however, never seen in courts or arguing before the Bench.For nearly a decade starting 2005, he successfully ran a law firm called Zeus. Some of his Zeus colleagues later joined T&T. His brother-in-law still runs Zeus. A low-key person, Tandon is not seen in parties or high-profile gatherings, and prefers to meet and entertain clients at his plush farmhouse in Chattarpur.”While questioning his staffers, we came to know that his parties are understated, without any glamour or Page 3 celebrities, but he is well connected. It is interesting that he knows both Bhandari and Khaitan,” said a Crime Branch officer.”He came to the limelight when he bid and got the ownership of a 12,000-sq ft residence in Jor Bagh. The deal was worth Rs 100 crore. Once the deal went public, everyone wanted to know who he was,” he added. In July 2014, Tandon bought a bungalow from the Ruia family via a special purpose company called Devlin Corp, in which he and his son are co-directors. The Delhi Police have informed both ED and I-T Department about the raids and a report will be submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday.I-T notices to 1,200 people in SuratSurat: The I-T department in Surat has issued notices to 1,200 people who have deposited Rs1 crore and above in their bank accounts after November 8. The notice has 20 questions and the account-holders have to respond within a week.Interestingly, according to the I-T department, only 55 persons in the city have an annual income of Rs 1 crore and above. – DNA Correspondent

VVIP chopper scam: Congress says CBI acting as govt’s ‘puppet’ by ‘planting false news’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing CBI of acting as the government’s “puppet” by “planting false news” related to the VVIP chopper scam, Congress attacked the Modi dispensation on Sunday saying it would not succeed in covering up the demonetization “mess” through a “captive” CBI and should instead answer questions in Parliament. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should also own up the “malicious news plants” and the media should not fall prey to such tactics, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said following reports that former IAF chief SP Tyagi, arrested in connection with the VVIP chopper scam, had blamed the office of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “A captive CBI wouldn’t succeed in covering up Modiji’s disastrous demonetization mess. Time for the Modi government to answer questions in Parliament,” he said.Surjewala also tweeted, “Instead of acting as ‘His Master’s Vendatta Machine’, CBI’s unappointed Chief & Co. should have the courage to own up malicious news plants (sic).” “Request friends of the media to not become unintended conduits of CBI’s false news plants, which is acting as Govt’s puppet to spread lies,” he said on Twitter.Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev, and a lawyer were arrested on December 9 in the alleged Rs 450 crore bribery case in the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from UK-based AgustaWestland during the UPA-2 government. The counsel appearing for the former IAF chief had claimed in the court yesterday that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and Prime Minister Office (PMO) was also a part of it.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Twin blasts kill 29 in Istanbul, I-T raid in South Delhi, VVIP chopper scam & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Turkey: At least 29 killed, 166 wounded in twin blasts outside Istanbul soccer stadiumA car bomb followed by a suicide bombing less than a minute later killed 29 people and wounded 166 outside a soccer stadium in Istanbul on Saturday night, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. Read moreI-T dept raids law firm in South Delhi, seizes Rs 10 crore, including Rs 2.5 crore in new notesDelhi Police on Saturday raided the office of a law firm in southeast Delhi’s Greater Kailash-I area and recovered Rs 10 crore in cash, of which Rs 2.5 crore was in new banknotes released after demonetization. Read more VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi drags in then PMO, says I am not running awaySP 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. Read more After Barkha Dutt, Ravish Kumar’s Twitter account hacked by Legion; says @LalitKModi leaks coming up nextHours after hacking NDTV Consulting Editor Barkha Dutt’s Twitter account, a group called ‘Legion’ hacked senior journalist Ravish Kumar’s official Twitter handle. Read moreMumbai: Law student assaulted for feeding stray dogsA 33-year-old law student was allegedly attacked on Friday night by a man and a woman from a neighbouring building who objected to her daily routine of feeding stray dogs inside her housing society. The Charkop police has registered an FIR against the two neighbours. Read more

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.”

AgustaWestland scam LIVE: Deal was ruled out because of ceiling constraints, CBI tells court

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

VVIP chopper scam | Not just SP TYagi, other bureaucrats, politicos involved must come under CBI radar: Defence expert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence expert Nitin Gokhale on Saturday said that former air chief SP Tyagi is not the last person to be arrested in the AgustaWestland case, adding that other high-profile officials, bureaucrats and politicians should come also be brought under the CBI scanner.”The former air chief SP Tyagi being arrested is indeed a big news and it has taken almost four years for the CBI to make a first high profile arrest. But I believe that SP Tyagi is not the last person who will be arrested because he did not take an individual decision in the AgustaWestland case. There were many other high profile and high post people were also involved in the decision making,” Gokhale told ANI. “So, just to pick out Air Chief Marshal (Retired) SP Tyagi will be unfair. So, therefore, my view is that even they should be not just interrogated, but they should be looked at very closely and if necessary also go after them,” he added.He further said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will do well to look at all those involved in that decision making process. “Otherwise, it will be seen as victimising a service personnel and allowing bureaucrats, and may be some politicians to get away from this crime. This entire deal was handled not just by Air Head Quarters, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) was involved and so was the Prime Minister’s Office. Two PMs offices that is the previous NDA government and Dr. Manmohan Singh’s Prime Minister’s Offices were involved. The special protection group which protects the Prime Minister was also involved.” he added.The CBI will produce Tyagi in court on Saturday and will seek his remand after he was arrested in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal case. Delhi based lawyer Gautam Khaitan and Sanjeev Tyagi were also arrested in the case.The deal is related to purchase of twelve helicopters for VVIPs from Italian manufacturer Finmeccanica in 2010 during UPA-2 government’s rule. Tyagi, 71,who retired in 2007, was called for questioning to the CBI headquarters along with Khaitan and Sanjeev Tyagi. These are the first arrests by CBI which came after it registered a case in 2013.

VVIP chopper scam | CBI acting at Centre’s behest to divert attention from demonetization: Prashant Bhushan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting to the arrest of former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi in the AugustaWestland deal, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan on Saturday said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), is acting at the behest of the Centre and wants to divert attention from the demonetization”fiasco”.”All the facts relating to Air Chief Marshal Tyagi are known for more than two years, yet he was not arrested till now. Now, suddenly he has been arrested since this whole fiasco of demonetization,” Bhushan told ANI.Bhushan further said that had the CBI and the Centre been serious about weeding out corruption, then they should have launched an inquiry into the defence deals done by the Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand governments who have agreements with AugustaWestland. “If they are serious about (tackling) corruption, why have they not taken action in similar AugustaWestland purchases by the Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan governments?” he asked.Asserting that defence deals in India are notorious for corruption and over-pricing, Bhushan said, “Even now, in this Rafale deal, the price of the aircraft was increased more than double where the contract of Rs. 58000 crore was given to Rafale and half of that has been given to Anil Ambani’s company which has no experience in defence production.”Bhushan further alleged that the interim CBI director is acting on behest of the Centre who is a handpicked man of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah.The CBI on Friday arrested Tyagi in connection with the AgustaWestland scam, considered as one of the biggest defence scams 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.

DNA Evening Must Reads: CBI arrests SP Tyagi in VVIP Chopper scam, industrial output contracts by 1.9% in Oct, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>VVIP Chopper scam: CBI arrests former IAF Chief SP Tyagi, 2 othersThe 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. Read more here.SC frames 9 questions to help decide if demonetization is unconstitutional or notThe Supreme Court asked the Centre, “When you made the policy on demonetization, was it confidential?” Chief Justice of India TS Thakur also asked the Centre as to why the order of granting limit of Rs 24,000 per day to a person had not been complied with. Read more here.Demonetization: IT dept raids Chandni Chowk Axis Bank, finds Rs 450 crore in fake accountsIn a raid conducted by the Income Tax department at Chandni Chowk’s Axis Bank branch on Friday, 15 fake accounts were discovered. According to ANI, an official said that over Rs 450 crores were found in these fake accounts. Read more here.Industrial output in red, contracts 1.9% in OctoberIndustrial output slipped into the negative territory again with a contraction of 1.9% in October mainly due to sharp decline in production of capital goods and poor performance of manufacturing sector. Read more here.India v/s England: Vijay, Pujara lead hosts’ strong reply to England’s 400Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara shared a century stand as India made a strong start in their reply to England’s total of 400 on the second day of the fourth test at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday. Read more here. Adira turns 1: Rani Mukerji shares first picture and pens an emotional letter for her baby!Last year, on December 9, Rani Mukerji and Aditya Chopra were blessed with their first kid Adira Chopra. One year has passed and on the eve of Adira’s birthday, Rani has finally put out the first picture with her baby on social media. Not just that, Rani has also penned an emotional letter for her baby. Read the letter here.

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 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.

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.

VVIP chopper deal: ED searches multiple cities; freezes over Rs 86 crore shares

Initiating fresh action in the VVIP choppers deal money laundering probe case, the ED on Monday conducted searches in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad on at least 10 premises of some involved firms and froze shares worth over Rs 86 crore kept by them in foreign shores.Officials said the agency seized a number of documents during the searches from the premises of the firms and entities brought under the action as they were “connected” to the case. During the searches, conducted under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the agency issued orders to freeze shares of certain firms worth Rs 86.07 crore that are located in Dubai, Mauritius and Singapore. The agency had recently filed a fresh charge sheet in the case naming British national and alleged middlemen in the deal Christian Michel James as part of its probe.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ED had registered a PMLA case in this regard in 2014 and named 21 people, including Tyagi, in its FIR. It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan in the case, who is out on bail now.It had earlier submitted that Khaitan was on the board of Aeromatrix, a Chandigarh-based company that was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in the chopper deal.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. The ED and the CBI had issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to multiple countries to gather more leads and evidences in this case.

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.

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.”

Congress challenges Modi govt to debate on two-year performance

Seeking to take the wind out of the BJP’s media blitzkrieg, Congress challenged the government for a debate on the issue of performance of the Modi dispensation in the past two years.”We would like to challenge this government for a debate at any time and any place of their choosing on the 2 years of NDA-BJP Government”, party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters targeting the government over its record in governance.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Making light of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s threat that the government would reveal the names of Congress leaders involved in various scams, he accused the government of “misusing” CBI and other agencies against its opponents.He said that Congress is unfazed by such actions of the government and would fight them politically and legally.Taking a jibe at BJP chief Amit Shah over his claims that there were no allegations of corruption in the last two years, he said that under the Modi regime, several scams have taken place and the Government has hardly taken any concrete steps to deal with them.”.”We would like to remind Amit Shah that DDCA Scam, GSPC Scam, Chikki Scam, Chhattisgarh PDS Scam, Lalit Gate, the Vijay Mallya escapade, Bank of Baroda Scam and the Vyapam Scam where more than 50 whistle blowers were killed are some of the shining examples of Modi Government’s achievements”, he said.On the interview of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in which he has said that he never named Congress president Sonia Gandhi as an accused in the AgustaWestland case, he said that the party does not need certificate from the BJP or its ministers.Claiming that there was policy paralysis during Modi Government, he said that it was less said the better on the matter.”The Number of stalled projects is highest since Modi Government took office. As of March 2016 there are 893 stalled projects, which is an increase of 17 % since March 2014. Is this not policy paralysis?”, he asked.Seeking to dismiss government claims, Tewari emphasised that the Indian Economy is in a “big mess.” “No domestic investment is taking place, there’s a been flight of capital and flight of entrepreneurs in the past one year, the number of business people becoming NRI is perhaps a record.”, he added.

Italy ‘torpedoes’ India’s entry to MTCR: What you need to know about dual-technology regimes

While addressing some questions about the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case on Thursday, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar accussed Italy of “torpedoing” India’s attempt to join Missile Technology Controls Regime (MTCR), according to The Economic Times. India is actively eyeing membership of not only the MTCR but also the Nuclear Suppliers group (NSG), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia group. Instead of being at the receiving end of the guidelines issued by these groups, it plans on getting assistance for its programmes.

While countries like China and now Italy have opposed India’s admission to these regimes, the US has been a strong supporter of India gaining membership to these groups. Washington believes New Delhi is aligned with international safeguards and could be a useful partner in supporting global non-proliferation.

Let’s understand these international treaties and India’s present position in detail:

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Missile Technology Controls Regime (MTCR)

MTCR was established in 1987 by the G7 countries and aims to limit the proliferation of missile and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical or nuclear attacks. It is an involuntary partnership between 34 countries which urge each other to restrict their missle export and technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload a minimum of 300 kilometres.

India formally applied for a MTCR membership in June 2015 which was eventually blocked by Italy in protest of India’a arrest of two Italian marines suspected of shooting an Indian fisherman. The membership would have immensely helped India in getting access to to world-class technology, according to a report by The Economic Times. It would have also allowed India to export its own technology to countries that comply with MTCR.

Nuclear Suppliers Group

The NSG is a group of nuclear suppliers countries which promote non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It attempts to control the exports and re-transfer of materials applicable to nuclear weapon development. It was founded in 1974 as to response to India’s ‘Smiling Buddha’. Countries already part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) saw the need to further limit the export of nuclear equipment.

India’s attempt to joining the NSG was blocked by several nations who considered signing of the NPT as an important standard for the NSG’s expansion. President Barack Obama, however, reaffirmed that US believes India meets the missile technology control regime and is ready for NSG, according to The Economic Times.

Wassenaar Arrangement

Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability. It aims to promote transparency and greater responsibility in transfer of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. It has 41 member states and was established in 1996 as an extension of Coordination committee for Multilateral export Controls (COCOM). The participating states ensure that transfer of materials do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities.

India is not a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement, but hopes to be one soon. The United States is likely to support India’s bid.

The Australia Group

The Australia Group is an informal forum of countries that seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons. It was established in 1985 and presently has 42 members.

During his trip to India, Obama endorsed India’s candidature for the Australia Group, which was later supported by France. A team of the Australia Group visited India in April 2011 but, a decision is yet to be taken.

Considering that India strictly adheres with the guidelines of all these groups, it is probably time for countries to reconsider India’s bid.

Parrikar nixes UPA-approved deal with Finmeccanica to equip submarines with torpedoes

Post the AgustaWestland chopper scam, the current government has decided to scrap a deal approved by the previous UPA government to buy 98 Black Shark torpedoes from a subsidiary of Finmeccanica for the INS Kalvari submarines to be launched this year, reported The New Indian Express.

The first of the Kalvari fleet was expected to be launched by the end of this year, but may now have to be launched without torpedoes, the report added.

The Times of India reported that the process of procurement from Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacque (WASS), a subsidiary of Finmeccanica (involved in the chopper scam), will now be closed and a fresh global tender will be floated. The report adds that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has directed officials to urgently look for an alternative, as the submarines of INS Kalvari are set to be launched soon.

Manohar Parrikar. File photo. AFPManohar Parrikar. File photo. AFP

Manohar Parrikar. File photo. AFP

The Navy, which has called the torpedoes an absolute operational necessity, had been waiting on the approval of the legal opinion asked for by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on whether it can place the order to a subsidiary of the firm embroiled in the Choppergate scandal.

DNA added that SeaHake torpedos from Germany’s Atlas Elektronik and France’s F21 torpedos are under consideration, and it could eventually become a part of ‘Make in India’ because torpedoes are needed for other projects as well.

In January 2014, the AK Antony-led Defence Ministry had approved a Rs 1,200-crore project to acquire 98 Black Shark torpedoes from WASS as it had emerged the lowest bidder during the process, reported The New Indian Express.

The Scorpene is part of the ambitious Project 75 of Indian Navy’s submarine programme, undertaken in collaboration with French firm DCNS, which will include six such vessels joining the fleet over the next few years. All the six submarines under this project are to be indigenously built at Mumbai’s Mazagon Dockyard Ltd. 30 percent of the equipment is said to have been made in India.

Initially, AgustaWestland was only barred from all future contracts, but its ongoing contracts were not going to be hindered. A partial ban was imposed on Finmeccanica as a complete ban could affect combat readiness, reported NDTV.

Six submarines, being built at the Mazagon Dock along with French firm DCNS under a project called P-75, costing Rs 23,562 crore has already been delayed by over four years and has overshot the budget by around Rs 5000 crore as well, NDTV and The Times of India reports added.

VVIP chopper scam: Defence Ministry has not opened any inquiry into navy tankers

Contrary to reports, the Defence Ministry has not opened any other deal for investigation besides the AgustaWestland chopper contract, defence sources said on Friday. The remarks came in backdrop of media reports that the MoD has opened an inquiry into a 2009 purchase of two naval tankers. The allegations were that inferior quality of steel was used by the Italian firm which caused an incident on board the tanker in 2010. “MoD has not opened any inquiry into navy tankers with so called sub standard steel,” sources said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the deal had come under criticism of the CAG in 2010. A Navy spokesperson said necessary procedures were followed diligently prior to acquisition of these tankers. The official said a few minor cracks were observed on the superstructure when the ship was coming back from Russia with aircraft carrier Vikramaditya. “The cracks probably occurred due to a combination of factors like sub-zero temp in the region, heavy sea, stormy conditions among others. The repairs were carried out in Lisbon by original equipment manufacturer and the ship was made ready in a few hours. “Board of Inquiry to investigate the cause was conducted and there was no material failure found. The ship is fully operational since and has been deployed extensively,” the official said adding the ship is on deployment in the Persian Gulf as of now.

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.

Kerala Elections 2016: UDF systemically destroys everything, says Brinda Karat

CPI-M politbureau member Brinda Karat on Tuesday alleged Congress-led UDF “systemically destroys everything” whenever it comes to power.”During the first LDF government under EMS Namboodribad, there was vigorous development in the fields of education and health, and very low infant mortality and general mortality rate. “Kerala was the number one state in human development index, but whenever UDF comes to power, it systemically destroys everything,” she told a meet-the-press programme here. Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments during an election rally on ‘Gujarat model’ of governance, she said the reply to it was ‘Kerala model’ governance by the Left.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She alleged the UDF administration was not different from the Gujarat model. Kerala had always been in the front in supply of PDS commodities. But the five years of UDF rule has destroyed the entire system, she alleged, adding price rise in the state “competes with” price rise of metro cities. “LDF will take Kerala for all-round development with people’s support,” Karat said.To a question about Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s emotional speech in the state yesterday, she said emotion cannot replace politics. “You have to answer political questions. We want an impartial probe into the AgustaWestland helicopter scam. As far as personal attacks are concerned, we condemn. we are against it,” the CPI-M leader said.Responding to Modi’s jibes at her Italian origin while talking about the chopper deal, Gandhi had yesterday said India is her home and “it is here that my ashes will mingle with my loved ones”. Karat also alleged UDF had “compromised” with RSS and hence violence by RSS activists against LDF workers was increasing in the state. On the rape and brutal murder of a Dalit woman, she said, “It is the most shocking thing. What kind of administration is this? when her mother complained about the incident, police never took action. Instead they tried to cover it up.”

VVIP chopper deal: ED team may soon travel to Singapore, other countries

New Delhi: Aiming to trace the money trail in VVIP chopper deal, a team of ED officials may soon travel to a few countries, including Singapore, and seek expediting the process of replies to its judicial requests issued in the case.

ED has already issued follow-up requests on its Letters Rogatories to at least ten countries in connection with the money laundering case. Reuters

ED has already issued follow-up requests on its Letters Rogatories to at least ten countries in connection with the money laundering case. Reuters

Officials said while the agency, along with CBI, has already issued a number of Letters Rogatory to a number of countries, investigators are eager to obtain quick information on funds and transactions made by individuals and entities involved in the Rs 3,600-crore deal for supplying a dozen AgustaWestland Aw-101 choppers to India for VVIP flying.

They said preparations are being made to send a team of Enforcement Directorate officials to a few of these countries, including Singapore, to “speed up” the entire process of legal
cooperation in matters of overseas criminal and financial investigations.

The agency has already issued follow-up requests on its Letters Rogatories (LRs) to at least ten countries in connection with the money laundering case it has registered to probe the deal.

Officials said while seven of the LRs (judicial requests) have been already dispatched, three have been sent recently.

The agency has obtained, from the courts, a total of ten LRs to countries like Tunisia, Italy, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mauritius, Israel, Finland, Singapore and Denmark in order to obtain details about the financial transactions that have taken place in the case by the firms and individuals named in its charge sheet filed before a court here last year.

A 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 these helicopters.

Apart from filing a charge sheet, ED has also attached assets worth Rs 11 crore belonging to the cousins of former IAF chief SP Tyagi and Italian national and alleged middleman in the case Christian Michel James.

Investigators are also on trail to apprehend James from his overseas location indicated to be either Dubai or the United Kingdom. Both CBI and ED have already notified him under Interpol’s Red Corner Notice for arrest.

AgustaWestland scam: Michel’s driver spills beans on India contacts, funds links

New Delhi: Investigators have got some “vital” leads on the Indian contacts and fund sources of Christian Michel, an alleged defence middleman, after interrogating his local driver here in connection with the money laundering probe in the nearly Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal.

Officials said Michel’s driver, Narayan Bahadur, was questioned at length by ED sleuths in the last few days and he has divulged vital information about contacts of the British national who has emerged as the crucial link in the case where agencies are probing alleged payment of kickbacks that helped swing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland for supply of 12 choppers for flying VVIPs.

They claimed the driver was getting money through global wire fund transfer services till recently and this could help investigators in locating the current operations and activities of Michel against whom both the ED and CBI have obtained Interpol Red Corner Notices for arrest.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The driver, sources said, used to ferry Michel during his visits to India and worked with him for close to four years. He used to pick up Michel from his hotel in central Delhi and took him to his Indian and foreign contacts in Lutyens Delhi and southern part of the national capital.

Though Bahadur had been questioned by the agencies earlier too, they stumbled upon some vital leads recently when ED sleuths searched his premises and are understood to have seized some documents, phones and a few other things which could throw light on Michel’s role in the scandal.

The VVIP choppers deal probe has shed light on the involvement of three alleged middlemen — Carlo Gerosa, Guido Haschke and Michel— in swinging the deal in favour of UK-based AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian firm Finmeccanica.

Investigating agencies are probing their role in the specific context of alleged payment of bribes and extension of favours by the company to clinch the multi-million dollar deal.

On 1 January, 2014, India scrapped the contract with the company over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

Both the probe agencies have also issued separate Letters Rogatories (LRs) to various countries seeking assistance to take the probe forward.

A joint team of the two agencies is likely to travel soon to a few overseas locations to track the trail of funds, both through wire tranfer and cash.

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.

VVIP Chopper Scam: Public Accounts Committee to take up AgustaWestland issue

Public Accounts Committee of Parliament headed by senior Congress leader KV Thomas, which was reconstituted this week, is likely to take up the contentious AgustaWestland case, an issue which has created a political firestorm both within and outside Parliament.The panel is also likely to continue with its inquiry into some aspects of 2G scam, Commonwealth Games scam and the issue of burgeoning Non Performing Assets (NPAs) of Public Sector Banks, which had been gone into by the last PAC, whose term ended on April 30.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A member of the committee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the panel is likely to take up the chopper scam as the Comptroller and Auditor General had made some adverse comments against it in its report in the past which is already with Parliament.
ALSO READ VVIP Chopper Scam: ED’s Agusta charge sheet and Modi govt’s claims don’t match”A decision on the issues to be taken up by the PAC this time will be finalized in our first meeting likely in a fortnight after the end of the session. We are keen that AgustaWestland issue is taken up and it will be taken up,” the member said.When contacted, the Chairman of the PAC K V Thomas, however, remained guarded.
ALSO READ VVIP chopper scam: CBI grills former IAF chief’s cousins and advocate Gautam KhaitanAsked about the possibility of the PAC taking up AgustaWestland issue, Thomas said,”usually PAC takes up any issue the CAG has examined after it submits its report in Parliament. Sometimes the PAC takes any issue suo moto as well like the last PAC did in case of NPA,” he said.Pressed further whether the PAC will take up the AgustaWestland issue, Thomas evaded a direct reply, saying “All these issues will be decided when the PAC meets.”
ALSO READ VVIP Chopper scam: Bofors mistake won’t be repeated, assures Defence Minister Manohar ParrikarThe CAG had submitted a report on the acquisition of the VVIP helicopters on August 13, 2013, concluding that the process, from framing of quality requirements to the conclusion of the contract, differed from established procurement procedures.The CAG findings were widely referred to when the issue was discussed in Parliament this week with both the ruling and the Opposition benches trying to browbeat each other.The reconstituted PAC, which will have a term of one year starting from May 1 this year to April 30, 2017, is yet to hold its first meeting.The 21-member reconstituted panel has seven members from Rajya Sabha—Naresh Agrawal, Satyavrat Chaturvedi Bhubaneswar Kalita, Shantaram Naik (Congress), Vijay Goel, Ajay Sancheti (BJP) and Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC).It has 15 members from Lok Sabha including Kirit Somaiya, Anurag Singh Thakur, Nishikant Dubey, Janardan Singh Sigriwal, Riti Pathak, Abhishek Singh, Shivkumar C Udasi (BJP), Sudip Bandyopadhyay (TMC), Prem Singh Chandumajra (Akali Dal), nominated MP from Kerala Richard Hay, Gajanan Chandrakant Kirtikar (Shiv Sena), Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD), Neiphiu Rioh (Nagaland Peoples Front) and P Venugopal (AIADMK).

VVIP chopper scam: AAP v/s BJP v/s Cong – Parrikar attacks Sonia, mocks ‘publicity seeker’ Kejriwal

Ramping up the attack against the Gandhi family on AgustaWestland issue, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said the government will not hesitate to take action against them if they are proven guilty, asserting no one is above law, whether “first or the last family”. He also took a dig at Arvind Kejriwal for his remarks that the Modi government does not have “enough courage” to arrest Sonia Gandhi, saying the Delhi Chief Minister was feeling left out because he did not get any media publicity for the last 10 ten days when the focus was on the VVIP chopper scam. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I feel no one is above the law. So whether it is the last family or the first, I don’t see any reason why anyone should be given a differential treatment, provided you have proper legal evidence,” Parrikar told PTI.He was replying to a query on whether the government could take on the Gandhi family, which is often referred to as the first family of Indian politics.The Minister, while referring to his statement in the Lok Sabha in which he hoped to do what could not be done in the Bofors case, said, “We have the intention and seriousness and I will ensure that proper and good attempts are made. So there is every possibility we may be able to (do).” While the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s name had cropped up in the Bofors’ scandal of 1989, subsequent investigations had failed to authentically pinpoint any links.Parrikar had said former Air chief S P Tyagi and Gautam Khaitan are “small people” who “simply washed their hands in a flowing ganga (of corruption)” and that the government will “find out where the river was going”.Parrikar trashed Kejriwal’s outburst that Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not have “enough courage” to arrest Sonia Gandhi and that the BJP and Congress have an “alliance in corruption”.”It is just a publicity stunt. Kejriwal was jumping to the fray to get attention. For the last 10 days, picture of Prime Minister Modi, Sonia Gandhi for wrong reasons, and at times mine were appearing in the media. To stay dry without publicity for ten days is a big thing for him (Kejriwal),” Parrikar added.Delhi CM launches attack Launching a scathing attack on the Modi government and Congress over the AgustaWestland chopper scam, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal 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… “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.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. Congress attacks Arvind Kejriwal for his tirade against Sonia Hitting out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for launching a tirade against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the grand old called on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Chief to list out the names of the party who had been sacked in the past year for various cases of wrongdoings. ‘I think it is bit of an oxymoron, the AAP should come out with a white paper, how many of their ministers were sacked by the Chief Minister on alleged charged of malfeasance and wrongdoings in the past one year,’ Congress leader Manish Tewari told ANI. Asserting that since several AAP MLAs are facing very serious criminal cases, he said that it would only be prudent if Kejriwal first put the affairs of his own house in order. ‘They need to tell the people of Delhi that how many of their ministers were sacked in the past one year, what are the charges against them, why they had to leave their posts and how many of their MLA s are facing heinous criminal charges in terms of the provision of the IPC criminal procedure code,’ Tewari said. With inputs from agencies

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

Protest v/s protest: How the Congress, BJP acrimony played out on the streets of Delhi

On a sweltering Delhi morning, it was rare occasion to see Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh inside a police station, where they were briefly detained for defying prohibitory orders, as the acrimony between the ruling BJP and Congress spilled from the Parliament on to streets.Leading a march towards Parliament, which was called ‘Loktantra Bachao Yatra’ (Save Democracy), a combative Sonia asked government ‘not to try to frighten’ Congress and life has taught her “to fight on”. After a quick stop at the police station, Congress leaders and MPs were allowed to drive to Parliament. Opposition leader in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, party leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and others courted arrest at Parliament Street Police station after they were stopped from marching to Parliament. They were released after a short while.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Countering Congress march BJP MPs and allied parties staged a dharna in front of the Gandhi statue outside the Parliament building. While Congress MPs alongwith Rahul Gandhi returned to Parliament House complex, the BJP Mps showed them playcards and raised slogans against the Congress leadership, claiming that they were worried with the judgment of an Italian court.The AgustaWestland issue appeared to be weighing heavily on her mind as Sonia targeted the Modi dispensation accusing it of starting “this game of levelling baseless allegations against leaders of opposition parties.”Sonia also launched a direct attack on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). “I want to tell Nagpur, to those whose instructions run the Narendra Modi government, “No matter what you accuse us of, we will not bow down.”The Congress demonstration was called to protest against the imposition of President’s Rule in two states that it governed – Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The party says the BJP is misusing its power at the Centre to remove democratically elected governments in states led by the opposition. “Don’t think Congress is weak. We won’t succumb to your politics of vendetta and threats. We will fight you and continue to be an awakened opposition which will protect democracy,” Sonia said. “We have gathered at Jantar Mantar to send our message not just to Rai Seena Hill but also to people in Nagpur, who run Modi’s government,” Sonia said.Accusing the Modi government of “murdering democracy and destroying democratic institutions”, she said, “I want to say clearly that whatever effort you make to destroy democracy, we will not allow it to happen. We are used to waging struggle and we have faced many challenges in the past. “Modi government used pressure, money, incitement to destabilise our Governments in Arunachal, Uttarakhand. They may try to character assassinate us to deflect attention from their own failures. Character assassination is BJP’S old habit but I want to warn them: We won’t bow to politics of intimidation.On the raging farmers’ suicide issue, Sonia said, “We had taken steps for the betterment of farmers, workers, women and youth. But this government has destroyed it. Everybody is feeling harassed and sad today. Farmers are committing suicide. They have assumed power by showing false dreams.” She said Congress will continue to fight inside and outside Parliament against injustice. The Congress Chief appealed to her partymen “to reach out to the people and unmask Modi government in a democratic way”.Rahul said only two people’s writ runs in the country and those who stand against them are targeted with ‘false allegations.’ He said around 40 per cent of the country is facing a drought-like situation and ’50 farmers were committing suicide everyday’, but the prime minister ‘has nothing to say over the issue’. Making light of ‘Make in India’ programme, he said that Modi had promised two crore jobs per year after coming to power, but actually a mere 1.3 lakh jobs were generated last yearAttacking the Congress chief, union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said if Sonia she fears none, then why is she afraid of a fair investigation. Alleging that the UPA government committed scams in sky (AgustaWestland), land (Adarsh), sea (submarine) and underground (coal), he sought to know why two key people, former governors M K Narayanan and B V Wanchoo were not questioned in the VVIP chopper scam. It was done only after the NDA came to power, he said.

SP Tyagi bros admits to ties with Agusta middlemen

As 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.Sanjeev (aka Juli), Docsa and Sandeep Tyagi were summoned by the central bureau of investigation (CBI) for questioning on Friday, where they admitted to “property links” with SP Tyagi. Juli also admitted to financial dealings with middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“The Tyagi brothers were questioned for almost nine hours today and they have been called for further clarification tomorrow as well,” a CBI source was quoted as saying. “We are not completely satisfied with Juli’s explanation regarding his financial dealings with Haschke and Gerosa,” the source added. Juli was said to be evasive during his questioning.The development comes hours after the enforcement directorate (ED) questioned SP Tyagi for the second day on Friday in connection with the controversial Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal. ED officials questioned Tyagi for the first time in a marathon 10-hour session on Thursday, according to agency sources.Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan, who has also been implicated in the scam, has also been recalled for further questioning. Khaitan, who was present at the headquarters on Friday, had mysteriously left the premises and returned two hours later. Speculation was rife that perhaps he had left to gather key papers CBI officials had asked for.“Khaitan seems to be concealing information regarding financial transactions between his company and AgustaWestland,” a CBI source revealed. So far, the CBI has admitted to have questioned more than 100 people individually in this matter.Though media reports strongly hinted that Christian Michel’s associate Christine Bredo Spliid might also be involved in the chopper scam, the CBI strongly asserted that Spliid is not a “person of interest at the moment”. The CBI stance was the same with respect to Michel’s driver, who was also questioned for evidence.Pointing fingers at the Congress leadership, Parrikar stated that the “entire corruption” in the deal took place during the UPA tenure but former air chief Tyagi and Gautam Khaitan are “small people” who “simply washed their hands in a flowing ganga (of corruption)” and that the government will “find out where the river was going”. Parrikar also said that while the decision on the contract was taken in 2010, Tyagi had retired in 2007 and “might have got just a ‘chiller’ (loose change)”.India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland in 2014 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.

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

Save Democracy rally: Manmohan Singh, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi detained briefly, later released

A combative Sonia Gandhi on Friday accused the Modi government of “murdering” democracy and unleashing a campaign of “baseless allegations” against the opposition, as top Congress leaders hit the streets and courted arrest near Parliament.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi were taken into custody along with Sonia Gandhi, who predicted that the Government’s days were numbered the way it was functioning.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Do not try to frighten or defame us… life has taught me to struggle, we have faced a lot of challenges. They don’t know what we are made of,” she said addressing the party’s ‘Save Democracy’ rally at Jantar Mantar.AFP PhotoAsserting that her party will play role of an “alert” opposition with “full vigour” both inside and outside Parliament, she asked partymen to “unmask” the Modi government.Opposition leader in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, party leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and others courted arrest at Parliament Street Police station after they were stopped from marching to Parliament. They were released after a short while.”They should understand very well that when matters would become unbearable, people of India know how to teach them a lesson…. The way the Modi Government is playing a fraud on the mandate, it seems its days are numbered,” the Congress president said.The rally saw Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh also attacking the Modi dispensation over pulling down of Congress governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.Sonia targets Modi over Agustawestland and Uttarakhand issueThe AgustaWestland issue appeared to be weighing heavily on her mind as Sonia targeted the Modi dispensation accusing it of starting “this game of leveling baseless allegations against leaders of opposition parties”.”But, I would like tell them they should not commit the mistake of assuming that Congress is a weak force. Congress is never going to bow before injustice. We will play our role of an alert opposition with full vigour in coming days, (both) within Parliament and outside too and combat injustice,” she said.Sonia said that the way the Centre has toppled Congress governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand through “money and muscle power has not only shaken the foundation of democracy, but has murdered it”. She also asked the partymen to reach out to “each corner” of the country and “unmask” the Modi Government through democratic means.ReutersDeclaring that the Congress will not allow the ruling party to “destroy” country’s democratic set up, she accused it of attempting to divide people on the basis of religion, region, language and eating habits. She also alleged that minorities were living under fear and the Dalits, women and tribals were being given a raw deal by changes in laws pertaining to Panchayati Raj institutions.Without naming the RSS, the Congress chief also targeted the Sangh Parivar alleging that the NDA Government was being remote controlled from Nagpur. She said that the Congress would not allow democracy to be “destroyed, whatever might be the diabolic designs” of the government. Sonia said that the Congress would not succumb despite attempts “to browbeat the opposition and malign it”.’Congress is the soul of India’: Manmohan SinghTargeting Modi for his “Congress-mukt Bharat” campaign, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Congress is “soul of India”.Singh said at a time when democratic institutions, universities and courts are under “tremendous assault”, it was the duty of partymen to foil the “designs” of those in power by working together with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. He also expressed apprehensions that the Centre was attempting to destabilise duly elected governments led by Congress in Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh.”Congress is like Ganga, no matter how many false allegations are levelled, it will not divert from its path,” he added.Underscoring that her party has been instrumental in creating democratic institution since independence, Sonia said that Congress would not shy away from making any sacrifices for the cause of democracy.”They declare anyone anti-national. Those who don’t agree with them are targeted,” she said, adding that her party knows how to fight against “anti-national” forces.ReutersAccusing BJP of levelling baseless allegations against leaders of opposition parties to divert public attention from its failure over the past two years, Sonia said it was “their old tactic of spreading rumours and character assassination by spreading lies”. She also flagged the issue of price rise, saying that it has affected women and the poor the most.”They have gained power by showing false dreams. And after gaining power, their hunger for power is only increasing. And that has led to toppling of Congress governments,” Sonia added. She also alleged that fear was being created in the minds of minorities and society was being divided in the name of religion, language and regions, while injustice was being meted out to students.Launching a scathing attack on Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Rahul said only two people’s writ runs in the country and those who stand against them are targeted with “false allegations”. He said around 40 per cent of the country is facing a drought-like situation and “50 farmers were committing suicide everyday”, but the Prime Minister “has nothing to say over the issue”.AFP Photo”Modiji promised ‘achche din’ and today the country is reeling under drought. 40 per cent of the country is reeling under drought. Everyday, 50 farmers are committing suicide. Latur, Vidarbha, Bundelkhand are burning. And Modiji has nothing to say about it,” Rahul said in his brief speech.Making light of ‘Make in India’ programme, he said that Modi had promised two crore jobs per year after coming to power, but actually a mere 1.3 lakh jobs were generated last year. Senior Congress leaders and workers led by Sonialater marched towards Parliament street, where they courted arrest at local police station. They were later released.

VVIP Chopper Scam: UPA govt did everything to help AgustaWestland bag the contract, says Parrikar

Maintaining heat on the Congress, the government today said the previous UPA government had “done everything” to help AgustaWestland bag the contract for VVIP helicopters and asserted that it will track down the main beneficiaries of the kickbacks in the deal.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in the Lok Sabha that former Air chief S P Tyagi and Gautam Khaitan, both accused in the case, are “small people” who “simply washed their hands in a flowing ganga (of corruption)” and that the government will “find out where the river was going”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking on a Calling Attention Motion on the chopper deal, he took a dig at Congress, saying it seemed to know where this “ganga was going”.
ALSO READ VVIP Chopper Scam: SC seeks Centre’s reply on PIL for FIR against Congress leaders including Sonia, ManmohanHe said the UPA government had “done everything” to help AgustaWestland bag the contract and that its action against the company following the disclosure of corruption was not pro-active but “forced by circumstances”.Tyagi and Khaitan were “small people who simply washed their hands in a flowing ganga (of corruption)”, Parrikar said, asserting that the government will track down the main beneficiaries of the kickbacks in the Rs 3600 crore deal for 12 VVIP choppers.
ALSO READ VVIP Chopper scam: Eight Indian missions on AgustaWestland money trail; Tyagi, lawyer Khaitan grilled”Why are you (Congress) concerned? I have not named anybody. You seem to know where the ganga was going,” the Defence Minister said, taking a swipe at Congress.Parrikar, who was criticsed by opposition members for reading from a statement during a debate over the issue in the Rajya Sabha, mostly spoke extempore and narrated the sequence of events related to the contract and its subsequent cancellation.
ALSO READ VVIP chopper scam: PM Modi lauds Parrikar’s speech; says he rose above politics & placed factsWhile a criminal case was registered in Italy in November 2011 over alleged exchange of bribe in the deal, the UPA government continued with the aquisition of choppers and three of them were delivered, he said.Only after Finmeccanica, parent firm of AgustaWestland, officials were arrested in 2013, that the then Defence Minister A K Antony asked the CBI to probe the matter, he said.Before then the government had not even written to the company and instead taken up the matter with the embassy, Parrikar said, likening it to “setting up a committee when you do not want to do anything”.”Its (UPA) action was compulsarily forced by the arrest of Finmeccanica official… It did not take any pro-action measure,” he said.

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.

dna Morning Must Reads: VVIP Chopper scam updates; Rio 2016; clash between ‘Furious 8’ and ‘Baahubali 2’; and more

1. VVIP Chopper scam: Eight Indian missions on AgustaWestland money trail; Tyagi, lawyer Khaitan grilledTo expedite tracking the money trail in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) on Thursday wrote to eight of its missions abroad to send reports about executions of letter rogatory. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Wrong depiction of India’s map can land you in jail up to 7 years or Rs 100 cr fineCompanies or even individuals tampering with India’s maps, beware! Wrong depiction of India’s map like showing Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir in Pakistan or Arunachal Pradesh in China can land you in thick soup. Read more here3. US House Speaker not ready to back Donald Trump as Republican nomineeUS House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking elected Republican official of the nation has said that he is “not ready” yet to back his party’s presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump. Read more here4. Rio 2016: Despite 7 shuttlers making the cut, poor form remains cause of concernIndia to send largest ever badminton contingent for Rio Olympics but their recent showing isn’t encouraging. Read more here5. Fast & Furious 8 to avoid clash with Baahubali? As plans stand today, those backing Baahubali: The Conclusion could well be aiming to release the film across 5000+ screens across the country as they are looking to make it accessible to one and all, from North to South. Read more here

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.

Expedite Agusta money trail, MEA tells 8 Indian missions

To expedite tracking the money trail in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) on Thursday wrote to eight of its missions abroad to send reports about executions of letter rogatory (LR), sent by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).Confirming that they had received a request from the CBI seeking to speed up the LRs, or in other words judicial requests, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said that the missions in Italy, Tunisia, Mauritius, Singapore, the British-Virgin Islands, the UK, the UAE and Switzerland have been asked to update on execution of LRs.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CBI sources had earlier said that they won’t be able to further investigate the money trail and ascertain the links till they get a response from these countries. Swaroop said the MEA has once again written to these missions from where the execution reports are pending. “We have impressed upon them the need to expeditiously execute the LRs and to send their corresponding execution reports at the earliest,” he said.According to CBI sources, so far they have got a complete response from Italy and partial reply from the British Virgin Islands, the UK and Tunisia. It is yet to get a formal reply from the UAE, Singapore, Switzerland and Mauritius. It is also believed that on Wednesday, the former board member of Aeromatrix, Gautam Khaitan, has purportedly admitted to having received payments from middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschkhe in the VVIP chopper deal. He has allegedly admitted setting up IDS Tunisia, a subsidiary of IDS India, the firm which was one among the many through which the alleged bribe was routed by the middlemen from AgustaWestland to other countries, the sources said.Khaitan, an advocate and a former board member of Aeromatrix – which was allegedly used to route bribe amount, is named in the CBI FIR as one of the accused. The agency had registered a case against former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen. Tyagi was 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. If not for this, Agusta choppers are not qualified for even submission of bids.On Thursday, Khaitan was being further questioned by the CBI even as Tyagi, who too was summoned, was grilled.Meanwhile, Agusta continued to rock Parliament on Thursday too. Congress and opposition parties stepped up the heat on BJP government seeking authentication of documents by Subramaniam Swamy and demanding discussion on alleged GSPC-KG Basin scam.Raising the issue during zero hour, Congress member Anand Sharma sought to know how Swamy got access to sensitive and confidential files of CBI and ED in the matter.The House “must know how an honourable member or rather a less honourable member” was given access to sensitive and secret files, which he has refused to authenticate and place on the table of the House, Sharma asserted.Taking cognizance, deputy chairman PJ Kurien said if Swamy had not complied with his ruling to authenticate all the documents he was quoting from and place them on the table of the House, the rule will take its own course.“The ruling has to be complied with,” Kurien said.While Congress members protested, minister of state for parliamentary affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi stated that Swamy had authenticated and placed the documents on the table of the House.But this did not stop Congress as Pramod Tiwari claimed that a national TV channel was showing how government agencies were putting pressure through religious missions to get the Gandhi family implicated in Agusta scam.“Some traitors are taking money from other countries to create disorder here… and destablise the country,” alleged Tiwari.However, Kurien stopped him saying it was not a question of point of order and disallowed Tiwari.Separately, Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh, on the question that other defence deals during UPA regime are also under scanner, said that “if there are any deals on which there any question marks, by all means, have them investigated…I don’t think that we have anything to feel defensive about.”

Modi is the ‘Jagadguru’ of politics of blackmail: Congress

Launching an all out attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress on Thursday dubbed him as “Jagadguru” (preceptor of the world) of “politics of blackmail” who is “masterminding a conspiracy” to implicate its leadership in the AgustaWestland case.Setting the tone for the debate on the VVIP chopper scam in the Lok Sabha tomorrow as also a Congress rally, party spokesman Jairam Ramesh alleged that the “sole objective” of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah was to “fix” Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the scam.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ramesh also claimed that the Prime Minister did have a “brushoff meeting” with his Italian counterpart in New York last year after which India “diluted” its position on the Italian Marines issue and invited AgustaWestland to participate in Make In India programme.”Subramanian Swamy represents the politics of blackmail, insinuation and inneundo whose Jagadguru is Modi,” he claimed.Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is expected to lead the party’s offensive in the House. While there has been no formal word on who would pitch Congress’ case during the debate, talk in the party is that besides Gandhi, chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia and senior leader M Veerappa Moily would put forth the party’s view.”The Narendra Modi-Amit Shah approach of governance is fake investigation ….They have no interest in bringing closure to any case,” he said making a strong pitch for a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry into the chopper deal. He said that BSP, JD-U and Left parties along with Congress have demanded such a probe to ensure a “doctored” inquiry does not take place.Alleging that the Modi dispensation wanted a “doctored inquiry to tell the world that Congress leadership is the beneficiary”, he said “There is no doubt that the Prime Minister himself is masterminding the conspiracy to implicate the Congress leadership…””You cannot run the government by practising politics of vendetta, revenge and intimidation…Governments do not function by looking backwards but forward,” Ramesh said.Congress takes a dig at ‘Acche Din’Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, he said “acche din” (good days) for him would come only when the Congress leadership has been “fixed”.Attacking Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the Congress leader said his reply in the Rajya Sabha to the debate on AgustaWestland issue yesterday was one of the “worst examples in parliamentary history” as instead of responding to issues raised by the opposition, he read out a “catalogue of accusations and charges”.Ramesh accused Parrikar of not maintaining the dignity expected of a Defence Minister by “resorting to a political speech”.”The cat is out by the manner in which the Prime Minister last night tweeted and hailed Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s reply in Rajya Sabha on the issue. It shows not only his mindset but his strategy too,” Ramesh said.Ramesh wondered that if BJP is against AgustaWestland, then why was the company invited to participate in ‘Make in India’ initiative.On the issue of an alleged meeting between Prime Minister Modi and his Italian counterpart, he said while the External Affairs Ministry has denied that “there was any formal meeting, it has not refuted any brush off meeting, brush on meeting, informal meeting, tea meeting, coffee meeting.” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had last week said reports about a meeting between the two Prime Ministers was “false and untrue in entirety. No such meeting at all has been held.”

Parrikar’s speech in RS was one of the best, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for his reply to a debate on AgustaWestland chopper deal in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, saying he had presented “all relevant facts” rising “above politics”.He also put on his twitter account the speech of Parrikar, urging his followers to listen to it.Parrikar had targeted the previous UPA regime over the controversial deal and suggested the role of an “invisible hand” in preventing a proper investigation earlier. He had said that ongoing probe will focus on those named in the Italian Court judgement on the controversy surrounding the Rs 3600 crore deal for 12 VVIP helicopters.There was “relentless push” by the UPA to go in for the AgustaWestland choppers, the Defence Minister had said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government will leave no stone unturned in bringing to justice those involved in the scam, he said. He said CBI has already done a lot of investigation and is currently on the money trail to track down where the bribe money went.

Chopper scam: MEA directs Indian missions to speed up LR execution

New Delhi: The External Affairs Ministry has directed a number of Indian missions abroad to ask the countries concerned to speed up executing Letters Rogatory (LR) in connection with the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper scam following a request by the CBI.

CBI had a few days back written a letter to MEA on expediting execution of the LRs, which are judicial requests to foreign countries for legal assistance in criminal cases.

The LRs were issued to Italy, Tunisia, Mauritius, Singapore, British Virgin Islands, Britain, United Arab Emirates and Switzerland.

“Yes, I can confirm that we have received a communication in this regard from the CBI seeking an update on the execution reports of the Letters Rogatory that were sent earlier to eight countries.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Chopper scam: MEA directs Indian missions to speed up LR executionWe have once again written to our missions in the concerned countries from where the execution reports are pending in order to impress upon them the need to expeditiously execute the LRs and to send the corresponding execution reports at the earliest,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, replying to a question.

Sources said a few countries have either responded to the LRs or executed them partly while some others are yet to respond.

The CBI is currently probing the AgustaWestland chopper scam and it questioned former IAF Chief S P Tyagi for the fourth consecutive day today.

The Enforcement Directorate, in its charge sheet filed last year, had claimed to have detected flow of alleged kickbacks sent from abroad to companies of the accused Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan and cousins of the former IAF chief.

On January 1, 2014, India had 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 payment of kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

Asked whether Britain has responded to India’s request for extraditing Vijay Mallya, whose Kingfisher Airlines has been accused of defaulting on bank loans of over Rs 9,400 crore, the MEA spokesperson replied in the negative.

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.

VVIP chopper scam: PM Modi lauds Parrikar’s speech; says he rose above politics & placed facts

A day after Manohar Parrikar spoke of an ‘invisible hand’ in preventing an investigation in UPA tenure in VVIP Chopper scam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised defence minister over his speech in Rajya Sabha.The prime minister also also said that Parrikar’s speech displayed best parliamentary traditions.Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Prime Minister said, “Yesterday’s speech by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in the Rajya Sabha was one of the best speeches, displaying best parliamentary traditions.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Parrikar rose above politics & placed all relevant facts on the table. Urging you all to hear his speech,” Modi tweeted.
ALSO READ VVIP chopper scam: Arun Jaitley claims he blacklisted AgustaWestland, not UPAThe controversial AgustaWestland chopper deal had triggered a stormy debate and trading of charges in the Rajya Sabha.
ALSO READ VVIP chopper scam: Govt rejects demand for a Supreme Court monitored probe in AgustaWestland payoffsAmid repeated disruptions the sequence of events related to the deal, the Defence Minister said CBI had registered a case on March 12, 2013 but it did not bother to forward a copy of the FIR to ED for nine months. Later, ED did not act on the FIR till July 2014, he said.”It appears an invisible hand was guiding action or inaction of CBI and ED,” the minister said.
ALSO READ VVIP chopper scam: Congress-led govt shared only 3 documents for Agusta trial, says Italian judgeHowever while contending that he had immediately taken action after allegations of corruption surfaced in 2012, former Defence Minister AK Antony said, “Act now… Take strong action but don’t threaten, don’t blackmail.”On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force (IAF) over allegations of kickbacks by it for securing the deal.The then UPA government had also barred Finmeccanica and its group companies from participating in any new programme of the defence ministry.An Italian court, which convicted AgustaWestland chief Giuseppe Orsi, had reportedly described how the firm paid bribes to top Congress leaders to bag the Rs.3,600 crore deal.