New Delhi, December 14: Former Indian Air Force Chief SP Tyagi who is accused in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland scam has been granted CBI custody for next three days. The Patiala House Court in Delhi also granted three days custody of Sanjeev Tyagi, SP Tyagi’s cousin and lawyer Gautam Khaitan to the CBI who had asked the court grant them seven more days to interrogate the trio accused in the VVIP chopper scam.
The CBI today informed the court that a senior official from AgustaWestland had met Tyagi at his residence, which can be seen as an abuse of his official position. The CBI sleuths also informed the court that they have procured some material from the investigating agencies in Switzerland, Italy and other countries for which more time for custodial interrogation of the accused is needed.
On the other side the defence counsel of Tyagi was unhappy with the CBI and said that the agency is detailing out the nature of material available with them only to help the media, the ANI said.
SP Tyagi had earlier said that the changed specification of VVIP helicopters, especially the reduction is service ceiling, were made under the advice of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), after which the court sent him to CBI custody till Wednesday.
Tyagi’s defence counsel N Hariharan while opposing the CBI plea asking for custodial interrogation of the accused informed the court that, “the Prime Minister’s Office then advised to keep the minimum mandatory requirement of the service ceiling of the helicopters to 4,500 metres (from the earlier 6,000 metres)”.
The decision of changing the ceiling came during the tenure of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but it was stopped in January 2013 when the corruption allegations started surfacing.
The CBI also informed that court that in 1999, the then Union Government decided to phase out the old helicopters as they were not fit to reach the high-altitude areas and then three years later the Defence Ministry issued global tenders for procuring new VVIP helicopters in which 11 international companies participated including AgustaWestland.
However, AgustaWestland first failed to qualify for the shortlisted companies as it could not meet the eligibility criteria but later when the celing height requirement of VVIP chopper was reduced to 4,500 meters from 6,000 meters the company qualified.
The CBI said that a conspiracy was hatched by the trio accused to help AgustaWestland win the chopper contract by making some operational changes in the requirements. The CBI also alleged that Italian nationals and middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke were in constant touch with Tyagi’s cousin to influence the bidding process and also accessed crucial information.
The middlemen involved in the deal told Sanjeev Tyagi they shared good contact with the CEO’s of Italy-based Finmeccanica and Britain-based AgustaWestland, which is a subsidiary of the former, and could fix the meeting with them, CBI inofrmed the court.
The trio including companies have been booked by the CBI for criminal conspiracy, cheating under the Prevention of Corruption Act.