A Delhi court on Monday deferred the hearing to Friday on cognizance of supplementary charge sheet filed in connection with the alleged corruption in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.
On Saturday, the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed a supplementary charge sheet against 15 accused, including alleged middleman Christian Michel and accused-turned-approver Rajiv Saxena, in connection with the case.
Special Judge Arvind Kumar in Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court said that he will pass the order on issue of cognizance of charge sheet on September 25.
In the supplementary charge sheet, the CBI has named Sandeep Tyagi, Praveen Bakshi, Partap Krishan Aggarwal, the then Managing Director of IDS Infotech Limited, Narendra Kumar Jain, Rajesh Kumar Jain of Kolkata, Sunil Kothari, the then Managing Director of OM Metals Infotech Private Limited, Kunhikrishnan, a close associate of Michel.
The agency has also named Saxena, then Director of Interstellar Technologies Limited, Giacomino Saponaro, then Managing Director of AgustaWestland International Limited, Deepak Goyal, an official of Gautam Khaitan, IDS Infotech Limited, Aeromatrix Info Solutions Private Limited, Neel Madhav Consultants Private Limited, Mainak Agency Private Limited, and Interstellar Technologies Limited.
The CBI has alleged that British national and middleman Christian Michel paid Rs 90 lakh as consultant fee to K.V. Kunhikrishnan, former GM, Westland Support Services Limited as a consultant fee.
The CBI alleged that Kunhikrishnan received documents and information related to the ongoing subject of procurement (12 VVIP chopper deal), which were supplied to AgustaWestland officials — Saponaro.
The probe agency asserted that during further investigation, it was found that Sanjeev Tyagi and Sandeep Tyagi (both cousins of SP Tyagi) through Neel Madhav Consultants Private Limited acquired Mainak Agency Private Limited at Kolkata in 2009 to launder illicit kickbacks and received approximately Rs 5 crore through banking channels in collusion with N.K. Jain, R.K. Jain and Kothari, who created shell companies and opened fake accounts in different banks for returning such kickbacks.
It was further alleged that in pursuance of conspiracy, the other accused — Agarwal, Bakshi, Saxena — through their companies had facilitated in routing the kickbacks paid by AgustaWestland at the UK.
Saxena was brought from Dubai in January 2019 and made an approver by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the VVIP chopper deal case but the financial probe agency later sought revocation of this status saying he misled the investigators.
ED claimed that Saxena is a ‘hawala operator’ and accommodation entry provider who runs the accommodation entry business in Dubai through numerous companies known as Matrix Group companies and has laundered proceeds of crime in the cases of AgustaWestland scam.
The CBI alleged that Goyal allegedly prepared fake invoices and sent mails for transferring the said kickbacks through IDS Infotech Ltd, Interstellar Technologies Mauritius and other companies.
The CBI has recovered copies of documents and details during the probe. The case pertains to the purchase of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters built by Italian defence manufacturing giant Finmeccanica (now known as the group) at an estimated cost of Rs 3,600 crore for ferrying VVIPs.
In the deal, bribes were allegedly paid to middlemen and others. The purchase was cleared in 2010 by the then UPA government.
On January 1, 2014, India cancelled 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 on charges of paying kickbacks amounting to Rs 423 crore.
The second charge sheet does not name any politician or senior bureaucrat. The first charge sheet, filed in September 2017, had named former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi and others.
The CBI had earlier filed a charge sheet in this case on September 1, 2017 against then Air Chief Marshal Tyagi and 11 other accused.
In its first charge sheet, CBI had established a “money trail” of 62 million euros (around Rs 415 crore) out of suspected 67 million euros (Rs 452 crore) total bribe paid to Indians through middlemen.