Things to know about Choppergate scam which has rocked Parliament; the deal; the characters
Reports started appearing in February 2012 that an investigation by the Italian Attorney-Generalâ€™s office into alleged unethical dealings by Finmeccanica, state-supported defence conglomerate, had taken into its ambit corruption in Rs. 3,500 crore deal signed with India by the firmâ€™s subsidiary AgustaWestland for the supply of 12 AW-101 helicopters to ferry the VVIPs. A year later Italian police arrested the Chief Executive and Chairman of Finmeccanica SpA, Giuseppe Orsi. He was charged with paying bribes of Rs. 360 crore to middlemen to swing the VVIP chopper deal for AgustaWestlandâ€™s from India when he was heading the subsidiary.
In February 2010 AgustaWestland signed Rs. 3,546 crore contract for supplying 12 helicopters, edging out American helicopter manufacturer Sikorskyâ€™s S-92 Superhawk. Italian probe alleged that Orsi and others paid money through intermediaries. Prosecutors alleged that the former Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi was paid through his cousins to tweak the terms in the tender to favour AgustaWestland so that it could bag the Indian contract. Main Characters â€“ Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa â€“ directors of the Chandigarh-based IT outsourcing firm Aeromatrix. Haschke was also till 2009 on the board of MGF Emmar, according to SEBI. He had secured citizenship of Switzerland as well as of the U.S. and reportedly knew the tricks of the trade in the defence sector.
Christian Michel: British consultant, confidante of Orsi, who had companies in Dubai and London. He had been active in Indian defence sector and got the big share of 51 million Euros as commission for influencing the contract in favour of AgustaWestland. Giuseppe Orsi: Former CEO and Finmeccanica. Arrested in 2013. In October 2014, a lower court acquitted him and former CEO Bruno Spagnolini of corruption but convicted them of falsifying invoices, sentenced them to two years prison term. On April 7, 2016, Italian Court of Appeals (equivalent to Indiaâ€™s high court) overturned the verdict and sentenced Orsi to four and a half years prison term for corruption.
Sanjeev Kumar Tyagi (Juli): A cousin of former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, old friend of Gerosa. His name appeared in conversations between Haschke and Gerosa which were taped by the investigators in Italy in 2012. The Enforcement Directorate had questioned him in October 2014. He is said to have introduced ACM Tyagi to Haschke at a farm house party in Delhi. IAF chief (Retd.) Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi: Was IAF chief between 2005-07. He has denied all corruption charges but admitted to having met Haschke.
Italian Court of Appealsâ€™ judgement refers to the Tyagi brothers â€“ Juli, Docsa and Sandeep Tyagi. The judgement, running into 226 pages, makes mention of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Ahmad Patel and Pranab Mukherjee who had earlier headed Defence Ministry at only a few places. India had paid Rs. 1,620 crore to AgustaWestland and encashed the Rs. 250 crore guarantee in January 2014. After winning a legal case in Italy in June 2014, India also encashed Rs. 1818 crore guarantee held in Italian banks, thus the total amount recovered was Rs. 2,068 crore. Three AW 101 choppers were delivered before the deal was cancelled. IAF is now using six Mi-17V5 helicopters for ferrying VVIPs like the President, Vice-President and the Prime Minister. Alleged payoffs and Italian courtâ€™s latest order provided ammunition to the BJP to train guns on the Congress and target Sonia Gandhi in and out of Parliament which is in the second part of the Budget session till May 13. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in Rajya Sabha that the “”bribe giver has been convicted and now the bribe-taker has to be identified.””
Sonia Gandhi has demanded an impartial probe, dismissing all allegations as “”false.”” She said: “”The government is there for two years, an inquiry is there. Why donâ€™t they complete it as early as possible and impartially. Former PM Manmohan Singh said: “”There is no case, my party will respond.””
Parliament session is likely to witness both the BJP and the Congress trading more fire over Choppergate and the heli-storm is unlikely to blow over soon.”