Ex-deputy Air chief questioned for 8 hours over VVIP chopper scam

New Delhi: After a recent order of an Italian court in AgustaWestland alleged corruption case, the CBI on Saturday started a fresh round of questioning with former Air Force Deputy Chief JS Gujral for over eight hours in the case.

“He will be called again for questioning” CBI sources said, adding “Three Tyagi brothers – cousins of former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi – have also been asked to appear before the investigation team next week.”
Former Air Force chief Tyagi will be appearing before the CBI on Monday, sources said.

CBI has so far maintained that Gujral, who was procurement chief in Air Force in 2005, was questioned as a witness in 2013 but was tightlipped on whether he retains the same status. The agency, so far, has not levelled any allegation against him.

“He is cooperating with us. We may call him again soon for another round,” an official said.

The CBI said the agency has received response of Letter Rogatory from Italy while partial responses have been received from British Virgin Islands, the United Kingdom and Tunisia.

However, to arrive at any conlcusion CBI needs responses from other countries as well.
CBI has sent judicial requests to eight countries with an aim to unravel the money trail of the alleged bribe of around Rs 400 crore which was paid to clinch the deal, they said.

The agency had registered a case against former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi and 12 others including his three cousins and five foreign nationals in the case. Tyagi has denied the allegations.

The allegation against the former Air Chief was that he had reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from altitude ceiling requirement from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft) so that AgustaWestland could be included in the bids.
However, this decision was taken in consultation with the officials of SPG and the Prime Minister’s Office.

CBI has alleged reduction of the service ceiling – maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally – allowed the UK-based firm to get into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids.