VVIP chopper scam: Former IAF chief SP Tyagi linked to 3 companies, says report

Former Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi arriving at the CBI HQ, New Delhi in connection with alleged corruption in the 3,600 crore AgustaWestland choppers deal.
Former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi has "substantial share" in three companies with "suspicious flow of funds", according to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Times of India reported on Tuesday.

According to the ToI report, the three companies to which Tyagi has been linked have been identified with their initials: 'Vanshi', 'Anuras' and 'Shavan'. These companies have been registered in India, adds the report.

The report quotes CBI sources as saying that the investigating agency has written to the Financial Intelligence Unit "to gather more details about the financial transactions of these companies in India and abroad".

On Monday, the CBI had examined Tyagi in connection with alleged corruption in the euro 556 million (currently Rs 4,195 crore) deal to buy AgustaWestland VVIP choppers.

Tyagi’s role in the deal has come under renewed focus after the Milan Court of Appeals — the equivalent of an Indian High Court — gave details of how alleged bribes were paid by helicopter-maker Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland to Indian officials through middlemen to clinch the deal.

Additionally, the ToI report said, the investigating agencies found that Tyagi was in Milan, Italy, in 2012, allegedly to meet two European middlemen — Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. Tyagi's visits to Italy, twice after his retirement, are also under the scanner of the CBI.

Tyagi's visit, the report says, came even as Italian authorities were probing the alleged irregularities.

Tyagi has told interrogators that he travelled to Florence, Milan and Venice, in Italy, in 2008 and 2009, after his retirement in 2007.

According to reports, it was in 2004 that a representative of Finmeccanica first met Tyagi, who was then the IAF vice-chief.

Only months after the government announced that Tyagi would be the next IAF chief, in January 2005, Haschke and Gerosa met him again.

According to agency reports, Tyagi met the two middlemen the next month during an air show in Bengaluru and in 2006, right after becoming IAF chief, Tyagi met them again, this time at a cousin's office and home in Delhi.

According to the reports, it was during his meetings with these middlemen that Tyagi changed the specifications of the prospective VVIP chopper.

According to the ToI report, during his 2012 Milan trip, Tyagi was "really agitated" about the probe being conducted by Italian authorities into the matter.

Citing documents shared with India by Italy, the report says that Tyagi, referred to as "Giuli", was in Haschke and Gerosa's company at the Milan-Malpensa airport on March 25, 2012.

Additionally, the report cites a recorded conversation – sent to Indian authorities – as saying: "...On 25-03.2012, Haschke and Gerosa accompany Tyagi (aka Giuli) to the airport of Milan/Malpensa and on the return trip, they make a general summary. They agree that Giuli is agitated about the (Italian) investigation."

According to the report, investigators have said that "Giuli", which means a very gorgeous girl, was most likely a codename used by the middlemen for Tyagi.

Meanwhile, the political furore over the chopper scam refuses to quiet down, especially given the government's stated focus on bringing the guilty to justice.

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