AgustaWestland: CBI Seeks Nod to Prosecute Former Govt Auditor

The CBI has sought to prosecute four others in the Rs 3,600 crore scam.

2 min read
An AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter. Image used for representational purpose.

The CBI has sought the government's permission to prosecute former Defence Secretary and Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Shashi Kant Sharma, Air Vice Marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar (retd) and three other former IAF officers in Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case.

A top Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) source said that the agency, in March, sought sanction to move against Sharma, who was then Joint Secretary, Defence; Panesar and three other IAF officers – Deputy Chief Test Pilot SA Kunte, Wing Commander Thomas Mathew and Group Captain N Santosh (all now retired).

IANS had reported on 8 June that the CBI has sought sanction to prosecute these officials.

As per the source, the role of these officials came to the fore during the agency’s probe. The source said that the agency got leads about their alleged role in the decision making and in the procurement process of the AgustaWestland choppers, and has got the documents related to their alleged involvement in the case.

The agency came to know about the alleged involvement of five officials after two officials turned as witness for the CBI earlier this year and shared key details, the source said.

The source said that once the prosecution sanction is granted or denied by the government, the agency will file its supplementary charge sheet in the case.

On 1 January 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 CBI, which registered an FIR in the case on 12 March 2013, had alleged that former IAF chief SP Tyagi, some of his relatives and the other accused received kickbacks from AgustaWestland to help it win the contract.

The CBI probe revealed that several payments were made to the Tyagis by alleged middlemen Guido Haschke, Carlo Gerosa and Christian Michel. Indian investigative agencies in December 2018 arrested British national Michel after he was handed over by the UAE and he has been in judicial custody since then.

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