Former Indian Air Force chief Tyagi involved in VVIP copper scam, says Italian court

An Italian court has turned the focus of a bribery probe on former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi, saying that there was "reasonable belief that corruption took (place)" in the 2010 VVIP chopper scandal, The Economic Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the court said that a part of $10 million - $15 million in illicit funds had made their way to Indian officials. The 225-page judgement by the Milan Court of Appeals reportedly has a 17-page long chapter on Tyagi, which points out the various grounds on which the former Indian Air Force chief has been accused of corruption. 

"The destination — at least partial — of the illicit funding to the payment of the price of corruption of Marshal Shashi Tyagi for his intervention in favour of AgustaWestland for the VVIP helicopters competition is validly proven," the court reportedly observed. 

The text in the judgement, accessed by Economic Times, was translated from the original Italian.

Tyagi, who was contacted by the newspaper, did not comment on the allegations, instead saying it was imperative to wait for the full translated document before reacting. In India, he is currently facing investigations by the Central Bureau of Investigation as well as the Enforcement Directorate. 

The Italian court order further said that payments to Tyagi and his family - including three of his cousins, were made in cash and through wire transfers. 

The court order, which relied on tapped conversations involving the alleged middlemen for the deal Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke, ruled that attempts were made to not only hide Tyagi's connection in the case, but to also destroy potential evidence. 

"From the analysed conversations we can get unequivocal indications about the corruption of an Indian public officer, identified as the cousin of the Tyagi brothers. In this regard, the explicit content of the dialogue is sufficient to establish the 'reasonable belief that corruption took place'," the court order was quoted as saying.

BJP yesterday raked up the VVIP chopper scandal in Lok Sabha following Italian court's reported observation that the UPA government showed "substantial disregard" in arriving at the full truth behind the multi-crore scam.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Meenakshi Lekhi said that the observations of the Italian court that found corruption in the Rs 3,565 crore AgustaWestland deal, were serious.

Seeking a statement from the Defence Ministry, she said Italy had requested India in April 2013 to get full documentation in the case but was provided only three documents and that, in 2014.

She also demanded a thorough probe in the matter as well as a discussion in Parliament.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu assured the member that he would bring the matter to the notice of the Defence Minister.

 

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