Former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal (Retired) S P Tyagi on Wednesday rubbished allegations that he was paid a bribe to swing the approximately Rs.3600 crore AugustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, which involved procuring twelve choppers from the Italian firm Finmeccanica.
Expressing his shock and disbelief over his name being involved in the scam, Air Chief Marshal (Retired) Tyagi said: "These allegations are totally baseless and I am denying them categorically."
"The deal was signed in 2010, whereas I retired in 2007 itself," Tyagi told media here.
"All changes in requirements and specifications have to be approved by Ministry of Defence," Tyagi said, countering allegations that the tender for the helicopters may have been tweaked under his influence.
"The tender was issued at my time, but no specifications were changed in my tenure," he added.
Asked about his relations with three alleged middlemen for the deal, including one 'former IAF officer identified as Captain Tyagi', the former IAF chief said the officer concerned was his cousin, but added that their relationship did not go beyond this.
On Wednesday, media reports suggested that Italian investigators have alleged in a preliminary inquiry submitted in an Italian court that business conglomerate Finmeccanica bribed Air Chief Marshal (retired) S P Tyagi when he was occupying his rank and post to swing the controversial AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal in favour of the company.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who has ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged scam, has said that the strongest action will be taken against those found guilty under the integrity clause.
Asserting that the Indian Government will not tolerate any form of corruption, Antony said he has already ordered a CBI probe into the matter.
"I have already ordered CBI probe into the entire chopper deal. Action will be taken once the CBI probe is over. Nobody will be spared if found guilty," he told media here.
Antony further said there has been no information on the alleged involvement of Air Chief Marshal (Retired) S.P. Tyagi's family in the deal.
Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi, who was arrested on Tuesday in Rome, had been under investigation for months and had denied any wrongdoing in the deal for the sale of 12 Augusta Westland helicopters to India in 2010.
The said contract was signed in February 2010 for the purchase of 12 helicopters. In view of media reports, the Ministry of Defence through the Ministry of External Affairs had sought information from the Governments of Italy and UK. No specific inputs were, however, received substantiating the allegations.
The contract signed with M/s. Augusta Westland includes specific contractual provisions against bribery and the use of undue influence as well as an Integrity Pact.
The first three of the 12 Augusta Westland VVIP choppers have already arrived in India and the rest are expected to be supplied to the Indian Air Force (IAF) by the middle of next year. (ANI)