A copy of the 225-page judgement by the Milan Court of Appeals on the 2010 infamous AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal has been sought by the Central Bureau of Investigation which had been probing the case alongwith the Enforcement Directorate. According to official sources, even though the probe agency is already in possession of a copy of the judgement, investigators have formally asked for the same in case they have to take further action in the matter.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A CBI official told dna that while the ‘domestic portion’ of the investigation has been completed by the probe agency, the judgement copy might prompt the agency to take further action including questioning of those named by the Italian court. When asked whether the probe agency will question all the persons named in the judgment, CBI officials stated that a decision will only be taken when the judgement is examined by its investigators. CBI did not deny the possibility of further questioning in the case. The development might spell trouble for senior politicians of the Congress Party including Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who have been mentioned in letters written by two accused in the rupees 3650 crore chopper scam in which kickbacks were paid allegedly to the tune of over Rs 350 crore in 2010.
ALSO READ VVIP chopper scam: Let them take my name, I am not afraid, says Congress chief Sonia GandhiParliament Live | AugustaWestland issue: Subramanian Swamy names Sonia Gandhi in RS, Congress protestsA March 2008 letter from the main middleman in the scandal, Christian Michel, to Peter Hulet, the India head of AgustaWestland, describes “Signora Gandhi” as “the driving force behind VIP helicopters”. Manmohan Singh is mentioned in a 2013 letter by Guiseppe Orsi, former Agusta CEO, from jail. The letter said that the Italian PM or a senior diplomat should call the former PM.Sources in CBI told dna, that investigators of the probe agency were looking forward to the Italian court’s judgement and were already comprehending further action even since the judgement on the AgustaWestland was delivered April 7. Letter Rogatory’s (LR’s) in this regard have also been sent to eight different countries where in CBI suspects the money trail of the infamous chopper deal leads into. The countries where LR’s have been sent are Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom, UAE, Mauritius, Singapore, British Virgin Islands and Tunisia.The Milan Court of Appeals — equivalent to an Indian high court — had ruled that the Rs 3,565-crore Agusta-Westland contract involved payoffs to Indian officials including former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi.Other than the former Air Force Chief, CBI had named various persons in its FIR, including European alleged middlemen Gerosa, Christian Michel James and Haschke who are among the 13 individuals named as accused in CBI’s FIR.Six companies including Italy-based Finmeccanica, Agusta Westland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius have also been named by CBI in its FIR.CBI has alleged that during his tenure as IAF Chief, Tyagi and “with his approval”, the Air Force had “conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6000 metres to 4500 metres as mandatory” to which it was opposing vehemently on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons.It had alleged reduction of service ceiling — maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally — allowed UK-based AgustaWestland to get into the fray as, otherwise, its choppers were not qualified for submission of bids.On April 7, the Italian court has said there was “reasonable belief that corruption took place” in the 2010 VVIP helicopter deal and that former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi was involved. The court also said it was “validly proven” that a part of $10-15 million in illicit funds made their way to Indian officials.