CBI seeks details on middleman’s custody in Italy

Chopper dealCBI seeks details on middleman's custody in ItalyNEW DELHI: CBI has sent a letter to the Indian embassy in Italy seeking details on the arrest of Guido Ralph Haschke, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, by Swiss authorities.
The arrest was made in Switzerland yesterday on the request of Italian authorities probing allegations of bribery in the contract for 12 VVIP helicopters.

Haschke, who is among 13 accused booked by CBI in connection with the corruption case, will be extradited to Italy next week.

Highly placed CBI sources said the letter has been sent to the Indian embassy seeking details on his custody and the ongoing probe. The agency will also be sending a judicial request to Italy for detailed information on the statements given by the accused who are in the custody of the authorities there.

They said after getting the statements, the agency would explore the option of seeking extradition of all the accused who are in the custody of Italian authorities. However, at the moment, there is no such move, they said.

The helicopter contract is under probe of Italian and Indian agencies for alleged kickbacks paid to Indian officials – including former IAF chief S P Tyagi – to clinch the deal.

Tyagi has denied allegations of any kickbacks.

Swiss-American Haschke is one of the 13 accused named in the FIR filed by CBI which is probing the bribery allegations in the deal.

“Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa (both alleged middlemen) managed to send 5.6 million euros through Mohali-based IDS Infotech and Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix Info Solutions Private Ltd to India and kept the remaining amount of about 24.30 million euros received from AgustaWestland with themselves in the account of IDS Tunisia,” according to the CBI FIR in the case.

The Italian prosecutor, who carried out the preliminary inquiry, has alleged that the CEO of Finmeccanica, the parent company of the UK-based AgustaWestland, had used services of middlemen to bribe Indian officials.

CBI, which carried out the probe in India, has named 13 individuals, including Tyagi and European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, in the FIR as accused in connection with the alleged bribery.

The Indian investigative agency has alleged that during his tenure as the IAF chief, Tyagi and “with his approval” the Air Force “conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000 m to 4,500 m as mandatory (although) it was vehemently opposing the same on grounds of security constraints and other related reasons”.-PTI

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