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India's ex-air force chief questioned in Finmeccanica probes

AgustaWestland allegedly bribed officials for chopper contracts

06 March, 18:08
India's ex-air force chief questioned in Finmeccanica probes (ANSA) - New Delhi, March 6 - India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday questioned a former air force chief of staff in connection with a probe into suspected bribes for a helicopter contract with a division of Italy's Finmeccanica defence giant.

Ex-Chief of Staff Shashindra Pal Tyagi was called by the CBI for probes into whether AgustaWestland, a wholly owned subsidiary of Finmeccanica, bribed its way to a contract for 12 AW-101 helicopters for the Indian air force. The CBI anti-corruption police have also questioned the former officer's cousins Julie and Docsa Tyagi about their alleged contacts with European middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschkhe. Italian investigators have accused Gerosa and Haschkhe of paying bribes to swing the deal for the 12 choppers in favor of AgustaWestland.

The officer and his relatives have in the past denied any wrongdoing. Also on Wednesday, Defense Minister A. K. Antony told the Senate the contract with AgustaWestland is on hold pending results of the current investigation. "No decision has been made on whether to blacklist the company", the minister told MPs.

The CBI also recently questioned managers at the Indian branches of Aeromatrix and IDS Infotech, which prosecutors believe acted as intermediaries by issuing false engineering contracts and routing bribes through the Mauritius Islands and Tunisia, sources close to the investigation said.