VVIP chopper deal PMLA case: ED summons ex-IAF chief Tyagi

Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned former IAF chief S P Tyagi in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal case.

This is the first time that the ex-Chief Of Staff of the Indian Air Force has been summoned by the central agency.

Official sources said the summons to Tyagi have been issued under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

While the exact date when Tyagi is supposed to appear before the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case here has been kept under wraps, it is understood he has been asked to come "in person" in the next week.

CBI has questioned Tyagi earlier in the same case and he had then denied any wrongdoing.

Sources indicated Tyagi's questioning is necessary in the light of a recent judgement of a Milan (Italy) court which had sentenced Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica's former chief Giuseppe Orsi and the former CEO of the firm Bruno Spagnolini on corruption charges in the sale of a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters to India for VVIP purposes.

The allegation against the former Air chief is that he allegedly reduced the height of the VVIP helicopters so that AgustaWestland could be included in the bids.

He took over as the Indian Air Force chief on December 31, 2005 and retired from service in 2007.

ED had registered a PMLA case in this regard in 2014 and named 21 people including Tyagi in its money laundering FIR.

It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan and had also filed a charge sheet last year.

ED is probing the case in which 70 million Euros (about Rs 360 crore) were allegedly paid as kickbacks.

The agency had earlier submitted that Khaitan was on the board of Chandigarh-based company Aeromatrix which was allegedly a front firm for the financial dealings in the chopper deal.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force (IAF) over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

In view of the corruption charges, India has also barred Finmeccanica and its group companies from participating in any new programme of the defence ministry.

The central agency has also issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to ten countries in this case.

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