10:58 GMT +319 January 2020
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    AgustaWestland has been accused of paying a kickback to a former chief of Indian Air Force to bag a contract for 16 VVIP choppers. The $753 million came under the radar of investigators after Italy arrested a former CEO of Finmeccanica, Augusta’s parent company.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) India’s Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a charge sheet of 30000 pages against nine persons including a former chief of Indian Air Force chief, former CEOs of AgustaWestland — Guiseppe Orsi and Finmeccanica's Bruno Spagnolini in a corruption case related to purchase of AgustaWestland chopper.

    In the charge sheet, CBI said that SP Tyagi, former IAF chief, conspired and manipulated the operational requirement of the chopper favoring AgustaWestland in lieu of bribery. Valued at $753 million, 12 choppers were meant for communication squadron of Indian Air Force to carry the President, Prime Minister and other dignitaries. S P Tyagi (retired from service in 2007), along with his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and the mastermind of the bribery Gautam Khaitan was arrested in December last year.

    CBI alleged that Tyagi took bribes through Khaitan from AgustaWestland to change the specifications such as operational flight ceiling from 6,000 meters to 4,500 meters, and bringing down the cabin height to 1.8 meters. Earlier in 2002, Agusta’s bid to win the contract was rejected as its AW-101 helicopter failed to fly at 6000 meters.

    CBI alleged that specification was revised in 2005 after company officials reached out to Tyagi through middlemen, offering him a hefty kickback. As a result, the contract was eventually handed over to AgustaWestland in 2010. Controversy erupted after the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, the CEO of Finmeccanica, Agusta Westland's parent company by Italian authorities in 2013. The arrest prompted Indian authorities to order a probe into the contract.

    Citing this bribery case, Indian defense ministry had canceled a $200 million deal with Whitehead Alenia Systemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica, in June 2016. Last year in April, an Italian court convicted Giuseppe Orsi and former AgustaWestland chief Bruno Spagnolini of bribing Indian officials to win the tender.


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    corruption, AgustaWestland, Indian Air Force, India
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