CBI arrests ex-IAF chief S P Tyagi in AgustaWestland chopper case

In this file photo, former Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi arriving at the CBI headquarters in New Delhi on Monday,in connection with alleged corruption in the 3,600 crore AgustaWestland choppers deal. Photo: PTI
S P Tyagi, chief of Air Staff from 2004 to 2007 was on Friday arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on charges of corruption in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal. He became the first chief of any armed force to go to jail on corruption charges. His cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and businessman Gautam Khaitan were also arrested. 

On January 1, 2014, India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

Italian investigators say that Euro 30 million or Rs 217 crore were paid as kickbacks, and Euro 100,000 or Rs 70 lakh were paid in cash to Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie Tyagi.

Two of these contractors were Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke, listed as AW middlemen. Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev (alias Julie) was in touch with Gerosa and Haschke, and had, leveraging on the strength of the relationship with the Chief of Air Staff, had made large sums of money off AgustaWestland. 

That payments were made to the Europeans for work “in the South Asian subcontinent” was confirmed by Orsi, the boss of the company to the Italian equivalent of the CAG, but he also told the Italian watchdogs that this money was ‘unrelated to Indian helicopter deal”. 

Italian investigators say that Euro 30 million or Rs 217 crore were paid as kickbacks, and Euro 100,000 or Rs 70 lakh were paid in cash to Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie Tyagi.

Tyagi has had a brilliant career. He was sent to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington as a student. When he finished the course, he was adjudged good enough to be made an instructor straightaway. He was one of the few officers to have been sent to the UK to train to fly the Jaguar and later became the Commanding Office of the Jaguar Squadron. 

He has the distinction of having flown several types of fighter and transport aircraft and has logged over 3000 flying hours.  His combat experience includes combat air patrols, as well as strike and interdiction missions during the 1965 Indo-Pak War.  In the 1971 war, he flew the MiG-21 on air defence missions.  

After retirement, he was drafted on the semi-official Track Two Ottawa Process where he acted as the eyes and ears of the government of India in a military-to-military engagement with the defence community of Pakistan. 


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