ED Names Former IAF Chief Among 34 in Chargesheet

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed a chargesheet in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal against 34 individuals and foreign and Indian companies including former IAF chief SP Tyagi, his two cousins, advocate Gautam Khaitan and Italians Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke.

While filing the chargesheet under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the ED informed the magistrate that money was laundered through “multiple foreign companies”.

The court was told that “foreign companies were used as fronts to park alleged kickbacks”.

The ED chargesheet named the former IAF chief’s cousins Sanjeev Tyagi and Rajiv Tyagi along with Bruno Spagnolini, former CEO of AgustaWestland, and Giuseppe Orsi, the former chief of Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica.

Others named in the chargesheet are Rajeev Saxena, Director of Dubia-based firm Matrix Holdings, his wife Shivani Saxena and advocate Gautam Khaitan’s wife Ritu Khaitan.

The chargesheet also names some Indian and foreign companies like Aeromatrix Info Solution Ltd, Windsor Group Holdings, Ismax International Ltd, Cricklewood Ltd, Long Lasting Ltd, Matrix Holding Pvt Ltd, UHY Saxena, Dubai Interstellar Technologies Ltd, O.P. Khaitan and Co International Mediterranean Consulting, Tunisia Infotech Design Systems, Gordian Services, Finmeccanica SPA and AgustaWestland.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) — the prime investigating agency — has already filed a chargesheet in the case.

On January 1, 2014, India cancelled 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 on charges of paying kickbacks amounting to Rs 423 crore.

The CBI, which registered an FIR on March 12, 2013, alleged that S.P. Tyagi, who was the IAF chief from 2004 to 2007, and the other accused received kickbacks from AgustaWestland to help it win the contract.

The FIR mentioned charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the CBI, S.P. Tyagi allegedly took bribes of several crores from AgustaWestland through the middlemen — and a complex set of companies in several countries — to change the specifications of the contract.

The operational flight ceiling of the choppers was reduced from 6,000 metres, as originally proposed, to 4,500 metres and the cabin height was brought down to 1.8 metres.

The twin modifications were allegedly meant to rig the deal in favour of AgustaWestland, which eventually walked away with the order to supply the 12 choppers for the Communication Squadron of the IAF to ferry the President, the Prime Minister and other VVIPs.

The CBI probe revealed that several payments were made to S.P. Tyagi by middlemen Haschke, Gerosa and Christian Michel James, whose name was not mentioned in the ED chargesheet.

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