The CBI on Thursday questioned IAF’s former assistant chief of air staff (plans) N.V. Tyagi and city-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan in connection with the alleged payoffs in the Rs. 3,600-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal.
Air Vice Marshal N.V. Tyagi (retd.) was questioned for a few hours while Khaitan, the former board member of Aeromatrix, one of the suspect companies in the case, was questioned for around 10 hours each at the Central Bureau of Investigation headquarters here.
Sources said that N.V. Tyagi, who has already been questioned in 2013, was quizzed on Thursday as he was the part of a team of senior officials who were involved in the deliberations to tweak the specifications of the helicopters meant to ferry VIPs, including the president and the prime minister.
N.V. Tyagi is not named as accused in the AgustaWestland case, the sources said.
Former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi, who was questioned by CBI on three consecutive days from Monday-Wednesday, has been accused in Italy and India of helping AgustaWestland win the chopper contract by reducing the flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000 metre to 4,500 metre (15,000 feet). The Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned S.P. Tyagi on Thursday in the case.
He, however, has denied the allegations against him and said the decision was reportedly taken in consultation with officials of the Special Protection Group (SPG) and the Prime Minister’s Office. Twelve helicopters were to be bought by India.
Khaitan, who is alleged to have formed shell companies to route the bribe money to India, informed CBI, during his interrogation, that he had taken payments from Augusta middlemen Guido Ralph Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
But, the informed source said, he did not gave clear input about the purpose for which he had received the payments.
Khaitan was again called for questioning on Friday – the third consecutive day. He was questioned on Wednesday too. CBI has also called the three cousins – Sanjeev, Rajiv and Sandeep Tyagi – of the former IAF chief.
The agency has been probing the case since March 2013 after filing an FIR against S.P. Tyagi and 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen.
The chopper deal resurfaced after an Italian court last month referred to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh among others in connection with the chopper deal but gave no details of any wrongdoing by the two leaders.
The CBI has told the court that the three Tyagis were associated with Haschke and Gerosa for a long time after they entered into a consultancy with a Tunisia-based company of the two middlemen in 2004.
In January 2013, India cancelled the chopper deal and the CBI was told to investigate the bribery allegations.