AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal: Know how the scam unfolded

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AgustaWestland-101 chopper
The Enforcement Directorate on Friday registered a money laundering case against former IAF chief SP Tyagi and others in connection with the 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. In another related development, the CBI has recorded statement of Goa Governor BV Wanchoo as a witness in the case. His questioning comes a week after former West Bengal governor MK Narayanan was quizzed by Central investigative agency. The Centra investigative agency is probing into the allegations that the Government panel which had played a key role in deciding the bidding process had reduced the maximum flying height for the choppers to enable AgustaWestland to get the contract. After charges of bribery surfaced, the contract for 12 AW helicopters worth Rs 3,727 crore was terminated in January this year. It was alleged that Rs 375 crore was paid as bribery to the middlemen in the deal.

Some facts on controversy:

In February 2010, India had inked a deal to acquire the 12 three-engine AW-101 helicopters from AgustaWestland worth Rs 3,700 crore for IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries around the President, PM and other VVIPs.

On 12 February 2013, controversy over the contract came to light, with arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, the CEO of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland's parent company by Italian authorities following which then Defence Minister AK Antony scrapped the contract in January, 2014 and ordered probe.

Defence Ministry had allegedly tweaked technical requirements to enable Finmeccanica to bid for the deal with its AW 101 helicopter. Rs 375 crore was allegedly paid as bribery to the middlemen in the deal.

Former IAF chief SP Tyagi was allegedly bribed by Finmeccanica to swing the AgustaWestland chopper deal in the company's favour. Tyagi admitted having met one of the alleged middlemen but refuted the charge saying that the whole process started after he retired.

CBI has registered case against former IAF chief SP Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen in the case.

The new Government has got refund of Rs 1,818 crore that the previous regime paid to Anglo-Italian company and now efforts are being made to encash bank guarantees worth more than Rs 2,360 crore deposited to the firm.

The three AgustaWestland-101 choppers, inducted into the Indian Air Force before the contract for another 12 VVIP helicopters was scrapped, have been grounded. Each of them costs Rs 250 crore.The three choppers are faced with a crisis of spares, after-sales support and maintenance problems.

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