The CBI today filed a charge sheet in a city court against former IAF Chief SP Tyagi and nine others in the Rs 450 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper bribery case. Besides Tyagi, the agency has named nine others, including his cousin Sanjeev alias Julie, advocate Gautam Khaitan and Michel James, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3500 crore VVIP chopper deal.
The charge sheet, which has also named retired Vice Chief of Air Staff air marshal JS Gujral, was filed before Special CBI judge Arvind Kumar just before the rising of the court. 71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by the agency in connection with the case. These accused are currently on bail.
The CBI has booked all the accused under the provisions of the IPC relating to cheating and criminal conspiracy and the Prevention of Corruption Act. SP Tyagi is the first Chief of the Indian Air Force to be named in a corruption or a criminal case by the CBI.
Others named in the chargesheet include alleged European middlemen in the deal, Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke. The FIR also names former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini, former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi and the Anglo-Italian company, AgustaWestland, as accused in the case.
CBI has alleged that during his tenure as Air Chief, Tyagi and, with his approval the Air Force, conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6000 metres to 4500 metres as mandatory, which it had been earlier vehemently opposing on the grounds of security constraints and other reasons.
CBI has claimed that the reduction of the service ceiling, or the maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally, allowed AgustaWestland to come into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not qualified for submission of the bids.
It also alleged that AgustaWestland had managed to introduce a comparative flight trial with non-functional engines and eventually succeeded in getting the contract for supply of 12 AW-101 VVIP Helicopters from the Defence Ministry, mainly due to softening of the IAF on the service ceiling issue after S P Tyagi took over as its Chief.