The government has put on hold the AgustaWestland helicopter deal after Italian allegations of bribery by Finmeccanica to obtain the contract.
India has already acquired three of the 12 copters contracted for in 2010 at a cost of Rs3,600 crore. Delivery of the rest will be put off, according to several reports which have not however been officially confirmed. The copters are meant for the use of top-level government VVIPs, including the president and the prime minister.
In Italy, meanwhile, public prosecutors helped tighten the net around former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi, involving a cast of middlemen, relatives, and girlfriends. AgustaWestland representatives stopped at nothing to reach retired Air Chief Marshal Tyagi and swing the deal, documents filed by Italian prosecutors say.
The investigation report quotes a key middleman as asserting that he met Tyagi ''six to seven times'', which includes meetings at the offices of the former air chief's cousins and at the biennial Bangalore air show when Tyagi was still in office.
Tyagi has maintained that he met a middleman representing Finmeccanica just once at his cousin's house; and that was after he had retired.The former air chief has categorically denied receiving bribe – allegedly around Rs4 core – to push the deal.
Tyagi on Wednesday sought to shift any blame to the then Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government and its National Security Advisor (NSA) Brajesh Mishra, who died in September last year. Tyagi said Mishra made changes to the original contract.