Chopper deal: CBI quizzes Aeromatrix CEO

New Delhi, March 5: The CBI on Tuesday questioned Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi in connection with alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore helicopter deal purportedly sent to the company from abroad in the garb of engineering contracts.

CBI sources said Bakshi was questioned in detail about the structure of its company, relations with alleged Italian middlemen Guido Ralph Hashcke and Carlo Gerosa and the engineering contracts with Mauritius-based firms.

The sources said Bakshi's name reportedly cropped up during conversations recorded by Italian investigators which formed the basis of his questioning.

The report submitted by Italian investigators shows that Hashcke and Gerosa allegedly received commission worth crores from Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland for swinging the VVIP helicopter deal in favour of the company.

A substantial portion of this money was allegedly routed to Indian companies -- IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix -- camouflaged as payments for some engineering contracts from Tunisia and Mauritius, the report says.

The report also says Hashcke and Gerosa were managing Aeromatrix.

The money trail given by Italian authorities alleged that reported bribe money was paid to Tunisian firm which was managed by Haschke and Gerosa.

The money was further routed from Tunisia to India and Mauritius allegedly in favor of Aeromatrix, it says.

Bakshi has denied all the allegations levelled against him and his company. He even denied having links with former IAF Chief S P Tyagi who has been named in the preliminary enquiry (PE) registered by CBI.

Bakshi has been named in PE in which it has named Tyagi, his three cousins, European middlemen and four companies -- Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix. All these suspects have refuted allegations against them.

Chopper deal: India to seek specific info from AgustaWestland

After rejecting AgustaWestland's reply to its show cause notice, the Defence Ministry is writing to the firm specifically asking about its linkages with software companies allegedly used as a cover for paying kickbacks in the VVIP chopper deal.

The ministry will specifically ask about AgusaWestkand's transactions with Tunisia and India-based firms IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, sources told.

The names of IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix have figured in the investigations by Italian authorities in the context of allegedly routing a portion of the kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 helicopter deal.

The firm is expected to be given one week's time to the to provide detailed answers to the clarifications sought by the Defence Ministry, they said.

A show cause notice was issued by the Defence Ministry to the Anglo-Italian firm late last month as part of the process to cancel the contract for 12 VVIP choppers.

The ministry had asked the firm why the deal not be cancelled in view of the corruption charges against it.

The firm had replied to the letter denying any wrongdoing in the deal but Defence Minister A K Antony rejected the response of the firm.

The Defence Minister has already ordered a CBI probe into the allegations after the arrest of CEO of Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini by Italian investigators in connection with the case.


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