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Feb 13, 2013 at 07:39pm IST

Chopper deal: Italy probe names Ex-Air Chief, India orders CBI investigation

New Delhi: An Italian probe has named former Air Chief SP Tyagi in its AgustaWestland chopper deal corruption investigation. The preliminary report alleges SP Tyagi tweaked certain requirements to enable Italian firm AgustaWestland bag the Rs 3,546 crore chopper deal.

Reacting to the development, former air chief SP Tyagi told CNN-IBN that the tender rules frozen in 2003 during the NDA rule, it was floated in 2006. According to him, the Indian Air Force (IAF) headquarters did not influence the chopper deal decision. He also claimed he he wasn't aware his cousins were arms dealers.

The AgustaWestland chopper deal got murkier with allegations of bribery now being levelled directly at the former Air Chief.

According to the Indian Express, Tyagi himself may have been involved in the multi-million dollar bribery scandal.

An Italian probe report submitted in an Italian court states, "AgustaWestland promised and managed to pay, through brothers Julie Tyagi, Docsa Tyagi and Sandeep Tyagi, a certain amount of money, not yet quantified...The money was allegedly paid to Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi, Chief of Staff in the Indian Air Force from 2004 to 2007."

The report goes on to call him - a public officer or anyway in charge of functions and activities equivalent to those of a public officer in India - to perform and for having performed a deed against his office duties.

Reacting to the development, SP Tyagi said, "It is outrageous to suggest that I have been involved in this deal."

The former Air Chief also said that the SPG had made some specific requirements in the helicopters which also affected the tweaking of the deal. To this, former SPG Director BV Wanchoo, now Governor of Goa issued a statement.

The statement said, "I'm holding constitutional post and not proper to comment. To the best of my knowledge there is discrepancy in the deal. Any government purchase is always done by a proper method of procurement and single hand can't influence anything."

Meanwhile, Indian company Aeromatrix, linked to AgustaWestland too came out to deny having received kickbacks in the deal.

None of the other Tyagi brothers were willing to come on camera, but maintained their innocence. However, the revelations have now forced the government to order a probe. Defence Minister AK Antony announced that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would carry out a detailed probe.

The Italian police in its report to the court of Naples had said they had tapped the conversations of two alleged middlemen who mentioned repeatedly their links to individuals high up in the Indian establishment who would help swing the deal. Who these people are will form the basis of the CBI probe.

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