Days after the AgustaWestland chopper scandal shook the nation with allegations about involvement of former PM Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the CBI questioned former Indian Air Chief SP Tyagi regarding his involvement in the wrongdoings.

The controversy revolves around a contract that India signed with UK based AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian defence conglomerate Finmeccanica. The controversy resurfaced after an Italian court reversed the judgment of a lower court which dismissed corruption allegations,  and awarded jail terms to Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland ex-CEO Bruno Spagnolini.

While the contract was put on hold after Orsi and Spagnolini were arrested on graft charges in 2013, SP Tyagi and his cousins the Tyagi brothers are among those accused of corruption.

Here are allegations against SP Tyagi:

  • It has been alleged that the service ceiling, or the maximum height at which a chopper can fly, was reduced to 4500 metres from 6000 metres in March 2005 under Tyagi as air chief. This helped AgustaWestland, whose choppers were disqualified in 2002 for not being able to fly above 4500 ft, Hindustan Times reported.
  • After a meeting in March 2005, a fresh comparative test was introduced, which examined how a chopper can cope with a non-functioning engine. This test was ideal for AW’s qualification, as its choppers had three engines.
b’SP Tyagixc2xa0| Source: PTI’
  • The Air Force first sent a letter to the defence secretary in January 2004 recommending a service ceiling of 6000 metres, and reiterated the stand in November 2004, but changed the decision suddenly in March 2005 under Tyagi, NDTV reported.
  • The decision regarding reduction of the service ceiling came close to payments of 3.26 lakh Euros in 2005 to his cousins, the Tyagi brothers, from a Tunisian firm Gordian Services, Sarl. The firm was controlled by AW’s European middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
  • It’s also alleged that Tyagi met middlemen Haschke, Gerosa and Christian Michel on seven occasions, and also took cash payments from them as bribe.
b’SP Tyagixc2xa0| Source: PTI’
  • Tyagi’s cousins Sanjeev, Rajeev and Sandeep were associates of Haschke and Gerosa, and entered into a consultancy deal with the duo’s firm in 2004, since they were certain of SP Tyagi becoming the next Air Force chief. 

Feature image source: PTI