New Delhi: (PTI) The CBI today arrested former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi and two others for alleged corruption in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal.
Tyagi, who retired in 2007, was questioned by the CBI extensively in the past in this case.
Along with Tyagi, his cousin Sanjiv alias Julie Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were also arrested.
"This is for first time a former IAF chief has been arrested by the central probe agency," official sources said.
On January 1, 2014, India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.
CBI had also got issued Letters Rogatory (judicial requests) to multiple countries to gather more leads and evidences in this case. CBI sources said the bribe amount was routed through middlemen and relatives to exert influence over Tyagi.
CBI alleged that in 2005, Tyagi had agreed to change the long held stand of the Indian Air Force that minimum operational ceiling of the VVIP helicopters should be 6000 metres.
Tyagi allegedly influenced the decision to reduce it to 4500 metres which brought AgustaWestland into the running for the deal when its choppers were not even qualified for submission of bids, CBI sources said.
On January 1, 2014, India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks of Rs 450 crore by it for securing the deal.
The CBI had registered a case against Tyagi along with 18 others, including his cousins, European middlemen and companies.
The CBI had sent judicial requests to eight countries — Italy, the United Kingdom, British Virgin Island, Tunisia, Switzerland, Singapore, the UAE and Mauritius to get details of money trail of the kickbacks which landed on the Indian shores allegedly in the form of off-set contracts to IDS, Chandigarh, Praveen Bakshi, one of the accused.
On April 7, an Italian court had convicted two top executives of defence major Finmeccanica (AgustaWestland is its subsidiary) for paying kickbacks in the deal.