New Delhi, A court here on Monday expressed astonishment over the Central Bureau of Investigations’ (CBI) failure in finding out the bribe amount paid to former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi Agusta in the Westland VVIP helicopter deal after a three year, nine month investigation.
“During arguments, CBI failed to state as to how much cash was paid to the accused (Tyagi) and when it was paid,” Special Judge Arvind Kumar said while allowing Tyagi’s bail application.
Tyagi – the first chief of any wing of the armed forces to be arrested in the country – and the others were allegedly involved in irregularities in the procurement of 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters from Britain-based AgustaWestland.
“Admittedly, the CBI has seized the documents regarding properties in the year 2013 and more than three years and nine months have passed but could not conduct investigation in this regard as the CBI has mentioned in arrest memo of accused that properties of accused are to be linked with illegal gratification,” the court said.
“The correctness or otherwise of the allegations as to whether the accused (Tyagi) has taken the kickbacks and in what manner he was connected with the same can only be looked into during the course of trial,” it said.
An FIR was registered against the accused on March 12, 2013 under various charges dealing with criminal conspiracy, cheating and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI alleges that Tyagi and the other accused had received bribes from AgustaWestland helping the manufacturer to win the $556.262 million contract to purchase the helicopters for the Communication Squadron of Indian Air Force to carry the President, Prime Minister and other VVIPs.
The accused had allegedly hatched conspiracy to reduce the service ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 meters to 4,500 meters to make AgustaWestland eligible for the contract.
The company was favoured by accused persons against illegal gratification accepted through different companies in the name of consultancy services, the agency said.
Three cousins of Tyagi including Sanjeev Tyagi who is undergoing judicial custody entered into a consultancy contact with Tunisia-based Gordian Services Sarl in 2004, the CBI said while opposing the bail plea.
The CBI claimed that Tyagi brothers received 1,26,000 euros after May 2004 and 200,000 euros after February 2005 in the form of consultancy fee from Gordian Services.
It added that Tyagi also received some amount in cash from Guido Ralph Haschke and Carlo Valentino Ferdinando Gerosa, who were linked with Gordian Services.
It was alleged that Bruno Spagnatini of Agusta Westland started paying kickbacks to Haschke and Gerosa under the guise of several consultancy contracts between Agusta Westland and Gordian Services.
Later on, money was transferred to India through different companies and accused a Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan, who is undergoing judicial custody, played a vital role in facilitating transfer of illegal gratification to India, the CBI said.
Tyagi, who headed the Indian Air Force from 2004 to 2007, has denied the charges saying that deal was executed after his tenure.
The order on the bail plea of other two accused — Tyagi’s cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and Khaitan — will be delivered on January 4, 2017.