10 Dec 2016 18:50 IST

Former Air Chief Tyagi, associates to be in CBI custody till Dec 14

Although the CBI had sought 10-day custody for all the three accused, it got only three

In a major crackdown in the ₹3,600 crore VVIP AgustaWestland chopper scam, a Delhi court ordered on Saturday that former Air Chief Marshall SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan will be in CBI custody till December 14.

Although the CBI had sought 10-day custody for all the three accused, it got only three as per the Patiala House court verdict. On December 14 all three will be produced in the court again, sources told BusinessLine urging anonymity.

During the proceedings, which went on for more than two hours, CBI is believed to have informed the court that it has arrested Tyagi, his brother and Khaitan based on the Letters Rogatory (LRs) received from Mauritius and Italy that pointed to some “startling evidence” of Tyagi receiving money from AgustaWestland.

Apparently, CBI also informed the court that it has “sufficient evidence” to prove that Tyagi received bribes from AgustaWestland during procurement process of the 12 AW101 VVIP helicopters.

The CBI also said that Tyagi had brought huge tracts of agricultural land when he was the Air Chief that were not declared. CBI also added that during their investigations in Switzerland they got some “incriminating” evidence against the trio. Apart from charges of accepting bribe, Tyagi has also been accused of changing some of the technical requirements that were mentioned in the original tender so that Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland’s parent company, can win the contract. As a result, the flight ceilings of the choppers were reduced to 4,500 meters from the original requirement of 6,000 meters.

It was said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) changed the specifications when Tyagi was named the IAF chief. Khaitan is believed to have helped the Tyagi brothers to route the money into India through several other countries. However, CBI failed to produce any evidence of the money trail that it alleges was routed into India through other countries such as Mauritius, Tunisia and Italy among others. Around ₹430 crore was paid as kickbacks to various stakeholders, out of which Tyagi brothers were supposedly paid around ₹8 crore.

CBI has said it needs the trio to be in custody to ascertain the entire money trail.

On the other hand, Tyagi, in his defence, pointed fingers at the then Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), IAF and Ministry of Defence officials, stating that the tender requirements were changed after collective decision, while Tyagi’s defence lawyer has said that the arrests were done to divert public’s attention from the ongoing demonetisation chaos.

Meanwhile, Air Force Chief Arup Raha told reporters that the case will have “repercussions” and will adversely impact the “reputation of the service.”

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