What is AgustaWestland VVIP choppers scam? 10-point explainer
The CBI Had Alleged That The Deal Signed With The AgustaWestland To Purchase 12 VVIP Helicopters Had Cost The Taxpayers A Loss Of Approximately Rs 2,666 Crore.
New Delhi :
In a major breakthrough, British citizen Christian Michel, the middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers scam case, was extradited to India. Michel was brought to New Delhi from Dubai in a special aircraft on Tuesday night and will be produced before Delhi's Patiala House Court, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act court, and a special CBI court. The investigators claim that Michel was the man who brokered the AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal with the Indian Air Force and paid bribes to officials and politicians to bag the contract from the Indian government to purchase 12 AW101 helicopters.
Also Read | Agusta Westland Scam: 'Middleman' Christian Michel extradited, lands in Delhi
What is AgustaWestland VVIP choppers scam? 10 points
- In February 2010, the then Congress-led UPA government had signed a contract with AgustaWestland - the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica – to buy 12 AW101 helicopters to ferry VVIPs, including the President of India, the Prime Minister and other important persons.
- Controversies surrounded the deal after reports that Finmeccanica paid a huge amount of money to several officials and politicians to win the VVIP choppers deal with the Indian Air Force.
- It was also alleged that some of the technical specifications of the helicopters were changed to help AgustaWestland bag the deal. The service ceiling of the helicopter was lowered to 4,500 m from 6,000 m.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had alleged that the deal signed with the AgustaWestland on February 8, 2010, to purchase 12 VVIP helicopters had cost the taxpayers a loss of approximately Rs 2,666 crore.
- The extradited British national Christian Michel is one of the three middlemen besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. A non-bailable warrant was issued against him by a Delhi court and Interpol issued a red corner notice (RCN) against him on request of the CBI.
- Then Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s political advisor Ahmed Patel was accused by the Italian prosecutors to have received kickbacks from the deal.
- A note sent by middleman Christian Michel to one Peter Hulett, an AgustaWestland employee, had mentioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel, Pranab Mukherjee, Veerappa Moily, Oscar Fernandes, MK Narayanan and Vinay Singh, all close associates of Sonia Gandhi.
- In 2013, then defence minister AK Antony confirmed corruption allegations. By June 2014, the Indian government recovered a total amount of Rs 2,068 crore including the 45 per cent of the contract value paid to AgustaWestland.
- On December 9, 2016, the CBI had arrested former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, his brother Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan in connection with the case. In September last year, the central probe agency had filed a chargesheet against Tyagi and nine others.
- On December 4, 2018, Christian Michel was extradited to India from Dubai. Michel will be produced before a special CB court, where the agency is likely to seek his custodial interrogation.
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First Published : 05 Dec 2018, 08:04:51 AM