New Delhi: Italian authorities on Monday, may hand over to the CBI the crucial telephone transcripts in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter scam, a move which may help it in expediting the probe into the case. According to highly-placed sources, the documents are expected to be handed over to Indian mission officials in Milan on Monday after which these would be sent to Delhi for scrutiny and ascertaining the role of middlemen and others in the case.
The transcripts, which are likely to be handed over to the CBI, would help it carry forward its probe in the Rs 362 crore bribery scandal in which the then Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi is also an accused, the sources said. The records are crucial to the CBI probe as they reportedly contain several conversations related to the alleged remittances made to cousins of Tyagi and other middlemen to clinch the deal, they said.
The sources said that a set of over 40,000 documents related to contours of money trail has already been received by the CBI from the Italian court after Defence Ministry became a civil party in the ongoing case in the European country.
However, they did not carry crucial phone conversations intercepted by the law enforcement agencies there. CBI has also hired lawyers in Italy to represent it in the case. With the help of phone intercepts, the agency wants to corroborate claims made in these conversations with the details of actual fund transfers to bolster its evidence against the accused in the chopper scam.
They said the records are related to phone conversations which were tapped by Italian authorities who have quoted them in their preliminary enquiry report on the basis of which they have started investigations into the alleged involvement of the Italian company Finmeccanica, its UK-based subsidiary Agusta Westland and their top executives.
The sources said once CBI gets these records it might question Tyagi and other accused again before starting to prepare the charge sheet against the accused. Meanwhile, CBI has also sent judicial requests to countries like Italy, UK, Switzerland and Tunisia seeking details of remittances made to India through the web of companies, the sources said.
Italian agencies had arrested the then CEO of AgustaWestland, Giuseppe Orsi, for alleged bribe given to the Indian middlemen to clinch the deal. The supply of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland had come under scanner after Italian authorities alleged that bribe money was given by the company to clinch the deal. The Italian prosecutor, who carried out the preliminary enquiry, alleged that the CEO of Finmeccanica, parent company of UK-based AgustaWestland, had used services of middlemen to bribe Indian officials in India.
CBI which carried out probe in India had named 13 individuals, including Tyagi and European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, in the FIR as accused, in connection with the alleged bribery. The probe agency has alleged that during his tenure as the IAF chief, Tyagi and "with his approval" the Air Force "conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m as mandatory to which it was opposing vehemently on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons".
According to the FIR, "Haschke Guido and Gerosa Carlo (middlemen) managed to send Euro 5.6 million through Mohali-based IDS Infotech and Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix Info Solutions Private Ltd to India and kept the remaining amount out of about Euro 24.30 million received from AgustaWestland with themselves in the account of IDS Tunisia."
Both the Indian companies have denied involvement in the bribery scandal.
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