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VVIP choppers deal: ED again questions ex-IAF chief Tyagi

Former IAF Chief S P Tyagi Was Today Questioned By ED For The Second Day For About Eight Hours In Connection With The Rs 3,600 Crore AgustaWestland Chopper Deal Even As Investigators Claimed He Denied Having Any Connection With The Alleged Middlemen In The Case.

PTI | Updated on: 06 May 2016, 10:42:24 PM

New Delhi :

 Former IAF chief S P Tyagi was today questioned by ED for the second day for about eight hours in connection with the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal even as investigators claimed he denied having any connection with the alleged middlemen in the case.

Officials said Tyagi was subjected to the marathon questioning after a similar ten-hour session yesterday by Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigators.

Tyagi arrived at the zonal office of the agency and left after about eight hours as he was put through more questions and evidences collected in the case by the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case, they said.

While ED did not comment on the questioning, sources claimed Tyagi denied having any dealings or connection with either Carlo Gerosa, Guido Haschke and Christian Michel, the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case, as he is understood to have accepted some fleeting meeting in the past with Gerosa.

Agency sources had yesterday said Tyagi was questioned about his role in the deal and his statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The retired Air Chief Marshal was questioned in the same case by CBI for three days this week but this is for the first time he was summoned by the ED.

Agency sources had earlier indicated that Tyagi’s questioning was 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 former CEO of the firm Bruno Spagnolini on corruption charges in the sale of a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters to India for VVIP use.

Tyagi’s name cropped at various points in the judgement.

The allegation against him 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 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.

Tyagi, however, has denied any wrongdoing on his part.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to 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.

The central agency has also issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to 10 countries in this case.

The agency which was supposed to question Tyagi’s cousin Sanjiv alias Juli after the ex-IAF chief, has decided to question him at a later date as he was called by CBI today.

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First Published : 06 May 2016, 10:35:00 PM