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VVIP chopper deal : CBI to begin probe in graft allegations
Last Updated : 13 Feb 2013 02:29:57 PM IST
VVIP chopper deal :CBI to begin probe in graft allegations


CBI will soon begin its probe into the alleged payment of Rs 362 crore bribe in India by an Italian aerospace firm to clear a Rs 3600 crore helicopter deal for ferrying VVIPs.

The agency today received a complaint from the Defence Ministry seeking a probe in the alleged kickback given in the procurement of 12 helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland, CBI sources said here.

 A call on whether to conduct a preliminary enquiry or register an FIR would be taken at a high-level meeting scheduled this evening, they said.

 Sources said the agency, after initiating probe, would approach the Defence Ministry for providing all the material related to the purchase of helicopters to understand whether any specifications were modified to benefit the company.

The sources said since the complaint was received in the morning, it is still in the scrutiny process. In February 2010, India had inked the deal to acquire the 12 three-engine AW-101 helicopters from AgustaWestland for IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the President, PM and other VVIPs.

The deal came under the scanner of Italian agencies after allegations of kickback given in India surfaced. The agencies arrested Giuseppe Orsi, the head of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica on Monday as part of their probe related to international corruption.

It is alleged that Orsi, who was CEO of the company when the deal was struck, was involved in the bribery. Around 50 million euros (Rs 362 crore approximately), about 10 per cent of the deal, were alleged to have been given as bribes to ensure that the company won the contract.

Former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi on Wednesday refuted allegations that he was paid bribes to swing a Rs. 3,600 crore deal for procuring 12 choppers from Italian firm Finmeccanica to ferry VVIPs. "I am innocent. These allegations are totally baseless and I am denyingthem categorically. The deal was signed in 2010 whereas I retired in 2007 itself," he said.

Asked if he had changed any specifications for the contract to favour Finmeccanica, Tyagi said the "staff qualitative requirements for the VVIP choppers were frozen in 2003, much before I assumed the office of Chief of Air Staff, and the IAF did not change any requirements after that."


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