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My family members know nothing about the VVIP chopper deal: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi

CNN-IBN
Feb 13, 2013 at 09:52am IST

New Delhi: A day after the Italian police arrested defence major Finmeccanica's CEO Giuseppe Orsi in an ongoing corruption inquiry, there are more details emerging. Reuters now reports that three cousins of former Indian Air Force Chief SP Tyagi allegedly helped twist rules in a helicopter tender won by AgustaWestland.

Tyagi has, however, refuted the reports saying his cousins know nothing about the deal. "My cousins have told me that they know nothing about this deal and I can only tell you what I know about this. We have no clue about this VVIP helicopter deal," Tyagi said while speaking to CNN-IBN.

ALSO SEE Ex-IAF chief's family in the dock over 'corrupt' Italian chopper deal

He also said the deal was finalised years after his retirement from the Air Force. "The deal was finalised three years after I left. I don't know where these reports have come from," Tyagi said. "All I can ask is where have they got this information from and why will people bribe me," Tyagi said.

He added the no requirement was tweaked and that any changes could be made only by the Defence Ministry. "To the best of my knowledge no requirements were tweaked. I have checked with my colleagues also, there were no requirements tweaked up to three months before I left. After that what happened, I will not know. There is a process. There are records. We can make no changes in any deal. The IAF can only recommend changes and only ministry can make changes. I made no changes in any deals," he said.

ALSO SEE Chopper deal with Italian firm in corruption net

The three cousins of SP Tyagi - Juli, Docsa and Sandeep Tyagi - reportedly received part payments amounting to 100,000 euros from two AgustaWestland managers. Reuters also adds that the warrant reviewed shows that two managers paid the cousins, among others, to swing the 2010 contract for supplying 12 helicopters to India. Italian prosecutors alleged that Orsi hired US-born Guido Ralph Haschke, who had close ties with the Tyagi brothers, to lead dealings in India to secure the contract.

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 around the President, PM and other VVIPs.

Despite initial objections by the finance ministry, the Cabinet Committee on Security had cleared the deal in 2010. Indian Defence Minister AK Antony had then said, "IAF and SPG repeatedly told us the helicopters were required because of the changing security scenario... the finance ministry also agreed later. The CCS then took a considered decision."

The case, which is still in its preliminary investigation phase, has rocked Italy before parliamentary elections on February 24-25, and also in India, the world's largest weapon importer. Prosecutors in the northern town of Busto Arsizio, near AgustaWestland's headquarters, said Orsi hired US-born Guido Ralph Haschke, who was then a consultant for the Finmeccanica group, to lead dealings in India to secure the contract.

(With additional information from Reuters and PTI)

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