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Feb 14, 2013 at 04:28pm IST

Ex-IAF chief denies receiving letter from PMO in 2003 over chopper deal

New Delhi: Former Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy has denied receiving any letter from the Prime Minister's Office in 2003 on the AgustaWestland chopper deal. "I don't think there was any request for proposal or anything that started in my time. We have been working on VVIP helicopters since 1993," S Krishnaswamy said.

"I am saddened if it's true. The investigation has been ordered and they will go to the depth of it. Time is right that truth must come out and people must be punished whosoever has done wrong," he added. When asked about the alleged involvement of former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi's family members, Krishnaswamy said, "We never met the Tyagi brothers."

ALSO SEE Italian report on chopper deal points at UPA; ex-IAF chief drags in ex-NSA

This came after former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi dragged in some crucial names including Brajesh Mishra, the former National Security Advisor during the NDA regime into the Italian chopper deal controversy. "When the requirements were made out, the height decided was 18,000 feet, subsequently we found that only one particular helicopter which met this requirement, because there was only one, we could have still bought, if there is only one of its kind. One problem was the government is always charry about handling a single vendor situation. Mr Brajesh Mishra who was then the NSA wrote to say that this helicopter doesn't meet the SPG's requirement and since there is no other helicopter available at this height, we need to change the requirements and it was then suggested, the height be changed," Tyagi said while speaking to CNN-IBN.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Prakash Javadekar has demanded a probe monitored by the Supreme Court. "This whole probe needs to be monitored by the Supreme Court, otherwise this will also be a cover-up operation. Let us understand that both the Bofors and this have common elements in it. Both have Italian connection and middlemen and that is why we need to be more cautious," Javadekar said.

ALSO SEE Government puts tainted Italian chopper deal on hold

The Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal has now been put on hold by the government. In fact only 35 per cent of the payment has been done so far. With the deal on hold, all monetary transactions have been stopped and the delivery of the choppers too, has been frozen for now.

While SP Tyagi named the NSA during Vajpayee's term, the Italian report alleged that 51 million euro kickbacks were paid between 2005 and 2011, during the UPA regime. The kickbacks were paid in the form of monthly remittances disguised as payments for engineering contracts.

Italian officials say at least 21 million euros was paid from 2007 to 2011, making the UPA government accountable, as it was in power. The payments were allegedly made through two companies - IDS India and IDS Tunisia - and no taxes were paid on the same.

The report has a detailed list of payments which continued till as late as December 2012. The Rs 3,600 crore deal has also come under the scrutiny of the Enforcement Directorate. It is expected to lodge a criminal case of money laundering to probe the allegations.

The scam had unfolded with the arrest on Tuesday of the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company that is suspected of paying bribes of about Rs 362 crore in India to get orders for helicopters to ferry Indian VVIPs. The Ministry of Defence also decided to put on hold the receipt of the remaining nine of the 12 helicopters for which the Rs 3600 crore deal was struck in 2010.

Giuseppe Orsi, the head of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, was arrested on Monday in relation to a probe into international corruption. He is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes regarding the sale to the Indian government of 12 helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland.

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