Opinion

Who all are involved in AgustaWestland Scam ? The roots of the scam seem to be deeper than you can imagine !

Last week, former Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for his key role in the 3600 crore AgustaWestland Scam. Along with S P Tyagi, 3 other people including his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and Gautam Khetan were also arrested. It is for the first time in the history of India that a chief of the defense force, retired or in service, has been arrested. The CBI arrested S P Tyagi after 4 hours of rigorous interrogation and claiming to have concrete evidences against Tyagi. In the revelations made by S P Tyagi to CBI, he has directly named the involvement of the then PMO in the scam. After this, CBI may soon interrogate former PM Manmohan Singh, Principal Secretary T.K.Nayar and NSA M.K.Narayanan.

The Scam & the people involved :
AgustaWestland is a British company, which was favored by the UPA government for procurement of 12 helicopters for VVIPs including Prime Minister, President, Vice President of India, etc. The parameters were deliberately tweaked in order to favour Augusta Westland. When the AgustaWestland scam came to the surface, the deal was cancelled after receiving 3 helicopters. Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, along with his cousins and middlemen, met with the senior executives of the company. It is alleged that it was S P Tyagi who specifically lowered the flying altitude of choppers from 6000 metre to 4500 metre and tweaked the parameters of cabin height of the helicopters, thereby eliminating all other competitors and ensuring AgustaWestland to get the deal. CBI had registered a case against S.P.Tyagi and 18 other people in this case.

The AgustaWestland paid a commission of 30 million euros to various people in the government, air force and bureaucracy to bag the Rs 3600 crore deal for supplying 12 helicopters. In the hand written note of Christian Michel, the key middleman, who is currently absconding the names of the people who were about to receive the shares are explicitly mentioned. The hand-written note by Christian Michel also mentions the amount to be received by everyone. As per this,
1. Political leaders were to receive 15.6 million Euros (52%)
2. Bureaucracy including officials of Defense Ministry to receive 8.4 million Euros (28%)
3. Air Force was to recieve 6 million Euros (20%).
4. The note gives split up to several top bureaucrats like DG Acquisition, Defence Secretary (DS), Joint Secretary(JS) etc.

The CBI said that payments were made through Tunisia-registered companies controlled by Switzerland-based intermediaries Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa and transferred to accounts in India and Mauritius.

The note specifically names one “AP” who received 15.6 million euros (Rs 125 crore). With UPA government in power and Sonia Gandhi calling the shots, it is a no brainer who “AP” refers to. The 225 page judgement of Italian High Court has taken the name of Sonia Gandhi a number of times, and the initials AP has been referred to as the political secretary of Sonia Gandhi who is none other than Ahmed Patel. He is not only the political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, but the most powerful man in Congress after the family and someone whom the family trusts more than anyone.

The judgement names TK Nayar (principle secretary to the PM of India during the Augusta deal) and M.K. Narayanan (the national security advisor during the Augusta deal). Page Nos. 163 and 164 of the judgement names Manmohan Singh and details that Orsi used Italian leadership and diplomats to contact the then Prime Minister to derail the probe by non-cooperation from Indian government side. In Page 163, the Judgment produces a hand-written note by Orsi from jail in July 2013 asking his people to contact then Italian Prime Minister Monti or Ambassador Terracciano to call Manmohan Singh. Orsi is another key middleman involved in the deal.

The main face :
A letter dated March 15, 2008 which was seized by investigators shows the main middleman Christian Michel writing to Peter Hulet (who was then India region sales and liaison head of the helicopter company), which states that Sonia is the main driving force behind this deal and she will no longer fly in the existing MI- 8 choppers. The letter is quoted verbatim in the judgment. It was Sonia Gandhi who specifically wanted new helicopters and asked the government to procure new helicopters. Air Chief Marshal Tyagi and his cousins met the representatives from the chopper company. The parameters were tweaked by Air chief, the deal was cleared by bureaucrats of defense ministry and got the political approval from the PMO (and of course the “real” PMO at 10 Janpath). The kickbacks that was received was shared between political, bureaucratic and Air Force officers involved in the deal, with the Political section and the certain AP receiving more than half of the 30 million Euros.

The arrest of S P Tyagi and his cousins is expected to spill many more beans and reach even deeper, where the roots of Augusta Scam seem to reach. Now that the PMO has been directly implicated in the scam, can Manmohan Singh again deny that he was unaware of it ? Even if the Prime Minister himself was not directly involved in the scam, he was someone who remained silent over scams after scams. What moral right does he have to give sermons of loot and plunder to others when his own office seems to be involved in multiple scams.


Kshitij Mohan

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