As the Central Bureau of Investigation continues to probe the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, the agency today said that former board member of Aeromatrix Gautam Khaitan has admitted taking payments from Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, middlemen in the deal, but rejected allegations that it was part of any kickbacks.
The CBI will continue questioning Khaitan on Friday.
"He has agreed he took payment from European middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. However, we do not agree with the purpose behind the payment which has been cited by him," CBI sources said, according to Zee News.
Khaitan and former Indian Air Force deputy chief N V Tyagi were examined by the CBI in connection with AgustaWestland VVIP deal in New Delhi today, the sources said.
While the questioning of Khaitan took about 10 hours, Tyagi left within four hours after recording his statement before the investigators.
The sources said while Khaitan accepted that money was received from Gerosa and Haschke he denied that it was part of kickbacks to clinch the deal.
The agency sources said Tyagi's cousins Sandeep, Sanjeev, Rajeev will be called on Friday for questioning. The three brothers are named in the CBI First Information Report.
Khaitan, who is an advocate and a former board member of Aeromatrix, which was allegedly used to route a bribe, is named in the CBI FIR as one of the accused.
The focus of the questioning was his alleged links with Italian middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschkhe, the sources said.
The CBI had registered a case against former IAF chief S P Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen.
The allegation against the former IAF chief was that he reduced the flying ceiling specification of the helicopter from 6,000 m to 4,500 m (15,000 ft) which put AgustaWestland helicopters in the contention for the deal, as under the earlier specs its choppers were not even qualified for submission of bids.
Tyagi has denied allegations against him and said the change of specifications was a collective decision in which senior officers of the Indian Air Force, Special Protection Group and other departments were involved.