Our Bureau
11:16 AM, June 25, 2015
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AgustaWestland AW101 Chopper (Photo:SCAMSLEAK on blogspot)

An inquiry by the Indian Air Force and Ministry of Defense (MoD) may have found no substance in the AgustaWestland bribery allegations prior to handing over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Former Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi said in an interview to India Today magazine, "Since there were allegations, an inquiry was definitely required. But there are ways to do it. For example, a discrete one would have established (whether there was bribery or not). I know for a fact that such an internal exercise was done by the MoD and the IAF HQs."

Tyagi's statement implies that the in-house inquiry may have returned negative findings into the bribery allegations, yet the government persisted with a CBI probe.

“We knew all along that our procedures were correct. The government of the day went to the floor of the House to say that there were no violations yet their actions did not match their words. Why should we have waited for an Italian court to tell us what we knew?” Tyagi said referring to an Italian court's findings that there was no evidence of corruption by former Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper kickback scam.

"We said we knew all was fine and yet believed an 'Italian crook' and began inquiring and hounding our own men. The government simply panicked. As elected representatives, you need to have a resolve." The "Italian crook" could refer to former director of external relations at Finmeccanica turned whistleblower Lorenzo Borgogni who is credited with blowing the lid on the bribery charges.

Lorenzo had to resign amid a criminal investigation into possible illicit payments aimed at winning business for the defense contractor Enav SpA, Italy's air-traffic control agency in 2011.

Despite two years of probe, the CBI has not made any headway in the scam investigation and is likely to close the case, as per Indian media reports.

SP Tyagi and his cousins are accused of taking money to swing the deal in favor of AgustaWestland in the INR 3,600 crore (US $566 million) contract for 12 AW-101VVIP helicopters.

India has so far recovered INR 2,400 crore (US $377 million) deposited as bank guarantee in Italy and India from AgustaWestland.

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