ibnlive » India

Feb 17, 2013 at 11:20am IST

Chopper deal: CBI team to visit Italy tomorrow to probe front companies

New Delhi: A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team is set to leave for Italy on Monday to investigate whether firms were floated in India just to route kickbacks in the Rs 3600 crore VVIP chopper deal with Italian defence company AgustaWestland. Official sources said the departure of the team was delayed due to some last-minute formalities which required to be fulfilled before traveling abroad for the purpose of investigation.

The team will try to meet Italian prosecutors to ascertain the details of the case, the sources added. The team comprises a CBI DIG, a law officer of the agency, a Joint Secretary level officer of Defence Ministry and an official of the External Affairs Ministry, the sources said.

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The decision by the CBI came as it virtually drew a blank from the Defence Ministry in getting some official inputs regarding alleged kickbacks in the case, sources said further. The CBI was handed over a letter from the Defence Ministry seeking a probe by it in the case which has triggered a storm in the country.

Meanwhile, Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi's cousin Sanjeev Tyagi on Saturday rubbished allegations of his involvement in the tainted AgustaWestland chopper deal in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN. Speaking to Rajdeep Sardesai, Sanjeev, who is mentioned in the Italian probe reports as 'Julie' Tyagi, said that the allegations against him and his cousin SP Tyagi were baseless and had maligned the image of their families.

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"I have no links with AgustaWestland. I am not aware of any deal. I did not receive any payment. (Guido Ralph) Haschke is lying. Finmeccanica is trying to cover up its own bungling. The charges are baseless. It is very easy to tarnish someone's reputation, but can the media pay it back?" he said.

Sanjeev revealed that he had met Haschke in 2001 in connection with a power sector deal and that he had known Carlo Gerosa, another middleman in the chopper deal, since 1995 through a deal related to the infrastructure sector. He also said that he had met Haschke through Gerosa.

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However, Sanjeev's denial raises some serious questions on the Rs 3600 VVIP chopper deal.

1. If Sanjeev Tragi is speaking the truth, and he did not receive the money, who got the bulk of the 50 million euros kickback?

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2. Is Guido Ralph lying to save someone bigger than the Tyagis?

3. Is Christian Michel, the man accused of taking 60 per cent of kickbacks in the AgustaWestland 101 helicopter deal, key to the payoffs?

4. Are Tyagis being used as decoy for possible payments to influence politicians in Italy and India?